On the Role of Female Health for Economic Development

Michael Kuhn, Vienna Institute of Demography
David E. Bloom, Harvard University
Klaus Prettner, University of Göttingen

We analyze the economic consequences for less developed countries of investing in female health. In a theoretical framework, where parents trade off the number of children against investments in their education, we show that better female health speeds up the demographic transition and thereby the takeoff toward sustained economic growth. In contrast, solely male health improvements delay the transition and take-off because ceteris paribus they increase the gender health gap. We illustrate the analytical results numerically for two stylized less developed economies that differ only in the gap between male and female health. According to our results, investing in female health is an important lever for development policies.

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Presented in Session 207: Public Health and Demography II