PROJECT

PRICING DAUGHTERS AND THE ECONOMIC BURDEN OF DISEASE: EVIDENCE FROM THE MENINGITIS BELT 

Researcher: Belinda Archibong with Francis Annan

Global warming is expected to worsen disease environments, particularly in the tropics, with the most vulnerable countries concentrated in Africa and Asia, where some of the world's poorest populations currently reside. While much attention has been devoted to studying the environmental costs of climate change, the literature is relatively thin on identifying the impact of climate-induced disease on social inequality, particularly on inequities related to gender. The aim of this project is to study the impacts of climate induced health shocks on development outcomes and gender inequalities in human capital investment, using evidence from the meningitis belt in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The meningitis belt consists of 23 countries, extending from Senegal to Ethiopia, and making up over 700 million individuals, that are frequently exposed to meningitis epidemics. Previous research (Archibong and Annan, 2017, 2018) estimated the impact of sudden exposure to the epidemic on investment in girls’ education relative to boys in Niger, a country in the meningitis belt, and found a significant reduction in educational attainment of school-going aged girls as of the time of the epidemic. The proposed analysis aims to investigate the effects of the epidemic on marriage markets, paying close attention to the role of income effects associated with the epidemic in changing the equilibrium bride price. The work will be based on a novel survey dataset on bride price in Niger and neighboring Nigeria, two countries in the meningitis belt, in order to examine the impacts of the meningitis epidemic on the gender gap in human capital investment through its effect on the bride price and marriage markets in these countries.