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Death and development

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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.

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Correspondence to Romain Wacziarg.

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Most of the work for this paper was completed prior to the tragic passing away of our dear friend and colleague John McMillan in March of 2007.

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Lorentzen, P., McMillan, J. & Wacziarg, R. Death and development. J Econ Growth 13, 81–124 (2008).

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