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The Contribution of Female Health to Economic Development

David Bloom, Michael Kuhn and Klaus Prettner ()

No 9268, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)

Abstract: We analyze the economic consequences for less developed countries of investing in female health. In so doing we introduce a novel micro-founded dynamic general equilibrium framework in which parents trade off the number of children against investments in their education and in which we allow for health-related gender differences in productivity. We show that better female health speeds up the demographic transition and thereby the take-off toward sustained economic growth. By contrast, male health improvements delay the transition and the take-off because ceteris paribus they raise fertility. According to our results, investing in female health is therefore an important lever for development policies. However, and without having to assume anti-female bias, we also show that households prefer male health improvements over female health improvements because they imply a larger static utility gain. This highlights the existence of a dynamic trade-off between the short-run interests of households and long-run development goals. Our numerical analysis shows that even small changes in female health can have a strong impact on the transition process to a higher income level in the long run. Our results are robust with regard to a number of extensions, most notably endogenous investment in health care.

Keywords: economic development; educational transition; female health; fertility transition; quality-quantity trade-off (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O11 I15 I25 J13 J16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dem and nep-gro
Date: 2015-08
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Related works:
Working Paper: The contribution of female health to economic development (2016) Downloads
Working Paper: The contribution of female health to economic development (2016) Downloads
Working Paper: The Contribution of Female Health to Economic Development (2015) Downloads
Working Paper: The contribution of female health to economic development (2015) Downloads
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