Journal of Economic Growth

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 81–124 | Cite as

Death and development

  • Peter Lorentzen
  • John McMillan
  • Romain Wacziarg


Analyzing a variety of cross-national and sub-national data, we argue that high adult mortality reduces economic growth by shortening time horizons. Paying careful attention to the age pattern of mortality and to endogeneity issues, we find that a greater risk of death during the prime productive years is associated with higher levels of risky behavior, higher fertility, and lower investment in physical capital, even when controlling for infant mortality. In our regressions, adult mortality explains almost all of Africa’s growth tragedy. This analysis underscores grim forecasts of the long-run economic costs of the ongoing AIDS epidemic.


Fertility Growth Human capital Investment Mortality 

JEL Classifications

I10 J10 O10 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Lorentzen
    • 1
  • John McMillan
    • 2
    • 3
  • Romain Wacziarg
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Graduate School of BusinessStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  3. 3.CEPRLondonUK
  4. 4.NBERCambridgeUSA

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