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Published onApr 08, 2020

The idea in this book that the interactions between natural and human forces affect both human history and the physical environment is long in the making. The genesis is a casual luncheon comment made by Gordon Tullock in 1984 that hookworm in the American South and the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission’s attempts to eradicate it warranted an economic examination. This stimulated Coelho to author an unpublished paper on the relationship between biology and economic growth in 1985. A long collaboration between the two of us began in 1986, a collaboration that has resulted in the publication of several papers on the connections among biology, parasitic diseases, and American economic development. Still the material contained herein is original to this book with the exception of what appears in two chapters. Chapter 5 on the biological consequences of economic choices in British North America is a significantly revised version of an article of ours that appeared in the Journal of Economic History (March 1997). Chapter 6 on the disease environment in the antebellum South is based on another article of ours that appeared in the Journal of Bioeconomics ( 1999). The chapter, though, contains substantial new material on diseases and the antebellum South as well as significant revisions of the content of the original article. Some of the findings reported in chapter 6 also are contained in two other articles of ours that have appeared in the Journal of Economic History (March 2000) and Social History of Medicine (December 2006).

Over the years, various parts of the book have been presented at many conferences, seminars, and workshops, including the Citadel Conference on the South; Pre-Conference of the XII World Economic History Congress; Third World Congress of the Cliometric Society; Economics Department, DePauw University; Research Triangle Economic History Workshop; Workshop in the Economics and Biodemography of Aging and Health, University of Chicago; and at the annual meetings of the Allied Social Science Association, Cliometric Society, Economic History Association, Public Choice Society, Social Science History Association, Southern Association for the History of Medicine and Science, and the Western Economic Association. We would like to thank the participants at each of these presentations.

As with most scholarly endeavors, we have benefited from the comments and suggestions of many individuals over the years on various parts of the work that now appear in this book. We especially thank Greg R. Alexander, Hoyt Bleakley, Janet M. Bronstein, Louis P. Cain, Lois Carr, Cheryl Elman, Stanley L. Engerman, Joseph Ferrie, Robert W. Fogel, Moheb A. Ghali, Michael T. Ghiselin, Farley Grubb, Gillian Hamilton, John Komlos, Naomi Lamoreaux, Deirdre McCloskey, James McClure, Dawn McGuire, Randy Moore, Gareth Morgan MD, Robert L. Ohsfeldt, Jonathan Pritchett, Joseph D. Reid Jr., Peter Reilly, James F. Shepherd, Tom Smith, Richard H. Steckel, Lorena Walsh, and Samuel Williamson for their assistance. We also thank Douglas McBride, Greg Madonia, Lisa Mishne, and Rui Pan for their assistance with data collection. We especially want to thank Nicholas Fritsch for his able research assistance with the mortality findings reported in chapter 7.

We also wish to thank the Rockefeller Archive Center, Sleepy Hollow, New York, for permission to access its holdings and use its materials. McGuire received support for parts of the material that appear in this book from the National Science Foundation under Grants 0003342 and 0721000, Ohio Board of Regents Individual Research Challenge Match, (1999–2001 Biennium and 2007–2009 Biennium), and a faculty research grant from the University of Akron, Akron, Ohio. Coelho received support for parts of the material that appear in this book from the National Science Foundation under Grants 0079179 and 0721070, a George A. Ball Distinguished Research Fellowship from the Ball State University Foundation, Muncie, Indiana, and a summer research grant from the Miller College of Business, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed in this book are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Robert A. McGuire
Akron, Ohio

Philip R. P. Coelho
Muncie, Indiana

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