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Does Productivity in the Formal Food Sector Drive Human Ebola Virus Infections in Sub‐Saharan Africa?

Gregory N. Price

African Development Review, 2019, vol. 31, issue 2, 167-178

Abstract: As the hunting, butchering, processing, and consumption of bushmeat is a potential source of human Ebola virus (EV) infections, the extent to which bushmeat is a substitute for food produced and sold in the formal sector suggests that the relative price of food could matter for the incidence of human EV infections. This paper considers if productivity in the food sector is a driver of human EV infections in sub‐Saharan Africa. We estimate count data specifications of country level human EV infections as a function of food sector productivity in sub‐Saharan Africa over the 1976–2013 time period. Our parameter estimates suggest that if productivity in the food sector was on average 1 per cent higher over the 1976–2013 time period, the incidence of human EV infection would have been 42.5 per cent lower. This is consistent with bushmeat being a substitute for food produced in the formal sector, as food productivity increases lower the price of formal food relative to bushmeat. Our findings suggest that as productivity in the formal food sector is a driver of human EV infections in sub‐Saharan Africa, policy interventions that increase food productivity would enable Millennium Development Goal outcomes related to hunger, disease mitigation, and sustainability of wildlife.

Date: 2019
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