Barriers to prosperity: Parasitic and infectious diseases, IQ, and economic development

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IQ scores differ substantially across nations. This study argues that cross-country variations in IQ scores, to a large extent, reflect the burden of parasitic and infectious diseases (PIDs) and iron and iodine deficiency (IID) in infancy and in utero. Furthermore, it is shown that the prevalence of health insults, through the channel of cognitive ability, is influential for the level as well as the growth in productivity across the world. Using data for 181 countries and an instrumental variable approach, regressions reveal that the prevalence of PID-IIDs is influential for growth and income inequalities globally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-187
Number of pages16
JournalWorld Development
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


  • Cognitive ability
  • Cross-country income inequality
  • Parasitic and infectious diseases

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