How Health Improvements Affect Economic Activity

Director: David Weil
Research Theme: Development, Institutions and Demographic Change
Location: Federal Republic of Nigeria
Funding: MacArthur Foundation

Weil’s recent research focuses on how changes in health and fertility affect economic growth in the setting of developing countries. Regarding health, he has examined how improvements in overall health, as proxied by life expectancy, as well as control of specific diseases (malaria and tuberculosis) feeds through channels such as worker productivity, human capital accumulation, and population age structure to effect the level of income per capita. He finds that the effects of health improvements on income per capita are lower than those that are often quoted by policymakers, and may not emerge until 30-40 years after the initial improvement in health. In a different project, he simulates the economic effects of fertility reduction, using a model that is parameterized to match the situation of Nigeria.