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The Rise and Fall of Pellagra in the American South

Karen Clay (), Ethan Schmick and Werner Troesken

No 23730, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: We explore the rise and fall of pellagra, a disease caused by inadequate niacin consumption, in the American South, focusing on the first half of the twentieth century. We first consider the hypothesis that the South’s monoculture in cotton undermined nutrition by displacing local food production. Consistent with this hypothesis, a difference-in-differences estimation shows that after the arrival of the boll weevil, food production in affected counties rose while cotton production and pellagra rates fell. The results also suggest that after 1937 improved medical understanding and state fortification laws helped eliminate pellagra.

JEL-codes: I18 N32 N52 Q12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr, nep-evo and nep-his
Note: DAE HC
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Published as Karen Clay & Ethan Schmick & Werner Troesken, 2019. "The Rise and Fall of Pellagra in the American South," The Journal of Economic History, vol 79(01), pages 32-62.

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