Essays on geography and diseases

Esposito, Elena (2014) Essays on geography and diseases, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Economia, 25 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/6539.
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This dissertation explores how diseases contributed to shape historical institutions and how health and diseases are still affecting modern comparative development. The overarching goal of this investigation is to identify the channels linking geographic suitability to diseases and the emergence of historical and modern insitutions, while tackling the endogenenity problems that traditionally undermine this literature. I attempt to do so by taking advantage of the vast amount of newly available historical data and of the richness of data accessible through the geographic information system (GIS). The first chapter of my thesis, 'Side Effects of Immunities: The African Slave Trade', proposes and test a novel explanation for the origins of slavery in the tropical regions of the Americas. I argue that Africans were especially attractive for employment in tropical areas because they were immune to many of the diseases that were ravaging those regions. In particular, Africans' resistance to malaria increased the profitability of slaves coming from the most malarial parts of Africa. In the second chapter of my thesis, 'Caste Systems and Technology in Pre-Modern Societies', I advance and test the hypothesis that caste systems, generally viewed as a hindrance to social mobility and development, had been comparatively advantageous at an early stage of economic development. In the third chapter, 'Malaria as Determinant of Modern Ethnolinguistic Diversity', I conjecture that in highly malarious areas the necessity to adapt and develop immunities specific to the local disease environment historically reduced mobility and increased isolation, thus leading to the formation of a higher number of different ethnolinguistic groups. In the final chapter, 'Malaria Risk and Civil Violence: A Disaggregated Analysis for Africa', I explore the relationship between malaria and violent conflicts. Using georeferenced data for Africa, the article shows that violent events are more frequent in areas where malaria risk is higher.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Esposito, Elena
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze economiche e statistiche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Institutions, Slavery, Caste Systems, Diseases, Geography, Malaria, Conflicts
Data di discussione
23 Giugno 2014

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