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Malaria, Race, and Inequality: Evidence from the Early 1900s U.S. South

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 October 2021

Emily Battaglia
Affiliation:
Ph.D. candidate in Economics, Princeton University, Louis A. Simpson International Building, Princeton, NJ 08544. E-mail: emilylb@princeton.edu
Faizaan Kisat*
Affiliation:
Ph.D. candidate in Economics, Princeton University, Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building, Princeton, NJ 08544. E-mail: fkisat@princeton.edu

Abstract

This study investigates the impact of malaria eradication programs on Black-white economic disparities in the early 1900s U.S. South. Malaria eradication was widespread and improved health across races. Yet, only white men experienced economic benefits. Using matched census records, we find that increased exposure to the program was associated with higher schooling attainment and income for whites but not for Blacks. Blacks exposed to malaria eradication were more likely to be farm laborers, and both Blacks and whites were more likely to migrate out of state. Our findings suggest that malaria eradication, a broadly applied intervention, widened racial gaps.

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Article
Copyright
© The Economic History Association 2021

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Footnotes

We thank the editor Eric Hilt for his feedback and guidance, as well as two anonymous referees for their very helpful comments. We are immensely grateful to Leah Boustan for her guidance and support in this project. We would also like to thank Hoyt Bleakley, Sok Chul Hong, Ilyana Kuziemko, Atif Mian, and seminar participants at the Young Economists Symposium 2020 and the Princeton Industrial Relations Section.

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