The historical diffusion of the potato in the Old World serves as an example of the contribution of technological innovations to socio-economic growth and development (Nunn and Qian in Q J Econ 126(2):593–650, 2011). Climate-related diseases, on the other hand, might offset some of these benefits. Here we examine the long-term impact of malaria on the potato-driven growth of the population and urbanization in the Old World during the 18th and 19th centuries. We exploit local variations in environmental suitability both for potato and for malaria transmission to estimate and compare the impact of potato cultivation on population and urbanization in highly endemic to non-endemic areas at a high level of spatial disaggregation. We show that local climate conditions ideal for malaria transmission counteracted the potential benefits of introducing the potato to the Old World, which are conversely found to be strong and positive in non-endemic regions. These results highlight the interplay between technological change, public health, and development outcomes.

Mosquitoes and Potatoes: How Local Climatic Conditions Impede Development

Maurizio Malpede
;
2023-01-01

Abstract

The historical diffusion of the potato in the Old World serves as an example of the contribution of technological innovations to socio-economic growth and development (Nunn and Qian in Q J Econ 126(2):593–650, 2011). Climate-related diseases, on the other hand, might offset some of these benefits. Here we examine the long-term impact of malaria on the potato-driven growth of the population and urbanization in the Old World during the 18th and 19th centuries. We exploit local variations in environmental suitability both for potato and for malaria transmission to estimate and compare the impact of potato cultivation on population and urbanization in highly endemic to non-endemic areas at a high level of spatial disaggregation. We show that local climate conditions ideal for malaria transmission counteracted the potential benefits of introducing the potato to the Old World, which are conversely found to be strong and positive in non-endemic regions. These results highlight the interplay between technological change, public health, and development outcomes.
2023
Malaria
Potato
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/1113226
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