The Rise and Fall of Pellagra in the American South
NBER Working Paper No. 23730
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.
Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23730
Published: 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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