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Pinna Pintor, Matteo (2019) Health, Nutrition, and Economic Development : Population and Individual Level Perspectives. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This dissertation is a study of the relationship between health and economic development. It aims to provide a general reconstruction of the problem by analysing it at the aggregate, population level and at the individual, microeconomic level. In each of these two broad parts, information from economics and the medical social sciences is mobilized to detail the empirical outlines of this relationship. At the population level, empirical regularities include an epidemiologic and demographic regime inherited from the Neolithic age, when the advent of farming triggered fundamental changes in the human ecology of disease that persisted until modern times. Since then, a secular departure from this regime has been ongoing, resulting in lower prevalence of infections, increasing survival, and enhanced human physiology. The determinants of these changes are studied, and their relationship with economic development is explored. The second part of the study scales the analysis at the level of individual decision-makers allocating resources and pursuing health as a welfare goal. The framework is employed to sketch a formal representation of the potential for health to improve economic performance, and to clarify the econometric problems involved in estimating these causal impacts. Measurement issues are further explored by discussing available health indicators. A review of the existing literature provides an occasion to observe the methodology in action and assess the evidence on the productivity-raising effect of health. Finally, the microeconometric approach is applied to contemporary China. Results of wage equations estimated with different models are interpreted in light of closely related studies. The dissertation represents a mixed-method, multidisciplinary investigation of a complex, multifaceted phenomenon. In it, no general theory is advanced, and some are rejected. Its main ambition is to add meaningful if localized contributions to its global understanding, placing emphasis on the need to integrate different approaches.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Dic Lo
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2020 13:30

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