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  • David N. Weil (a1)

I examine recent changes in African mortality and discuss their potential economic and demographic effects. Growth in life expectancy sharply departed from its trend after 1990, and then experienced a sharp acceleration after 2005. This latter acceleration was due overwhelmingly to improvements in HIV and malaria. Economists differ in their estimates of how large the structural effect of health on income is, with many estimates being relatively small. Taking seriously the delays built into many plausible causal channels would lead one to expect that any economic effects of these mortality changes, if they are detectable at all, will not appear for several decades. By contrast, the effect of declining mortality, especially from malaria, should soon be visible in data on population age structure in some countries.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence to: David N. Weil, Department of economics, Brown University, Box B, Providence, Rhode Island, United States, RI 02912; e-mail:
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Acemoglu, Daron and Johnson, Simon (2007) Disease and development: The effect of life expectancy on economic growth. Journal of Political Economy 115.6, 925985.
Ashraf, Nava, Fink, Günther and Weil, David N. (2016) Evaluating the effects of large scale health interventions in developing countries: The Zambian Malaria initiative. In Edwards, Sebastian, Johnson, Simon, and Weil, David N. (eds.), African Successes, vol. 2, pp. 1357. Human Capital: University of Chicago Press.
Ashraf, Quamrul H., Lester, Ashley and Weil, David N. (2008) When does improving health raise GDP?. NBER Macroeconomics Annual 23.1, 157204.
Cervellati, Matteo, Esposito, Elena and Sunde, Uwe (2017) Long term exposure to malaria and development: Disaggregate evidence for contemporaneous Africa. Journal of Demographic Economics 83 (1), 129148.
Deaton, Angus (2013) The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Gallup, John Luke and Sachs, Jeffrey D. (2001) The economic burden of malaria. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 64.1, suppl, 8596.
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2013) The Global Burden of Disease
United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, World Population Prospects: The (2015) Revision.
Weil, David N. (2010) Endemic diseases and African economic growth: Challenges and policy responses. Journal of African Economies 19.3, suppl, 81109.
Weil, David N. (2014) Health and economic growth. In Aghion and Durlauf (eds.), The Handbook of Economic Growth, vol. 2B, pp. 623682. North Holland, Amsterdam.
Weil, David N. (2015) A review of Angus Deaton's the great escape: Health, wealth, and the origins of inequality. Journal of Economic Literature 53.1, 102114.
Weil, David N. (2016) Health improvement and income growth in the long run. In Cervellati, Matteo and Sunde, Uwe (eds.), Demographic Change and Long Run Development, pp. 5584. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Weil, David N. (2007) Accounting for the effect of health on economic growth. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 122.3, 12651306.
World Health Organization (2001) Macroeconomics and Health: Investing in Health for Economic Development, Geneva: Report of the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health.
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Journal of Demographic Economics
  • ISSN: 2054-0892
  • EISSN: 2054-0906
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-demographic-economics
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