TAU Co-Study: “Green Revolution” Decreased Infant Mortality

Written on | ,

“Israel, as a global leader in agriculture R&D, has much to offer to the developing world.”

In the first global-scale study of its kind, researchers used wide-scale data to correlate between the “Green Revolution” in agriculture and the dramatic reduction in infant mortality in the developing world. The Green Revolution was a global effort to increase the global crop yield during the second half of the twentieth century.

“In our study, we sought to use empirical methods based on our hypothesis that larger crop larger yields could improve the level of nutrition of pregnant women and young children, and also increase household income, thus contributing indirectly to improved health,” explained Dr. Fishman, of the TAU Department of Public Policy and the Boris Mints Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions to Global Challenges, who contributed to the research. “During the Green Revolution, there was support for international public agricultural R&D with a focus on developing higher-yielding strains of common staple crops, such as wheat, rice, and corn. By the end of the 20th century, approximately 60% of the developing world’s agricultural lands were using these varieties.”

At the same time, between 1960 and 2000, there was a dramatic improvement in health in the developing world- the percentage of children who died before the age of one was reduced from 20% to 10%. The cause of this improvement has been long-contested and attributed to various public health improvements but the contribution of individual factors, including the impacts of the Green Revolution, has been poorly quantified until now.

The correlation in the study suggests that the Green Revolution was responsible for a decline of some 2.5- 5% in the rate of infant mortality. This represents between 25% to 50% of the overall reduction of infant mortality during that time period.

To conduct the study, the researchers collected detailed data about the mortality rates of 600,000 infants born in 37 developing countries between 1961 and 2000, and cross-referenced them with information about the diffusion of the improved Green Revolution seeds in the place and year of birth of each of these infants. Using sophisticated statistical methods, they estimated the association between these two variables. The analysis found a statistically significant causal link between the two data sets. In locations where improved varieties diffused earlier – in part because of the types of crops grown, there was also a more rapid decrease in mortality rates.

“Our study proves the historical importance of agricultural R&D for the health of the rural populations in the developing world. We showed that improved crop varieties, which thus improved nutrition and income and reduced hunger, saved the lives of tens of millions of children in the second half of the twentieth century, and have most likely also brought about improved health for tens of millions of other individuals not directly visible in the data,” said Dr. Fishman.

According to Dr. Fishman, these findings highlight the continued need to address public health. “Israel, as a global leader in agriculture R&D, has much to offer to the developing world,” he says.

The study was conducted by an international team of researchers from Tel Aviv University, the Indian School of Business, the World Bank, the University of California San Diego, Michigan State University, and Colorado State University. The paper was published in the Journal of Health Economics.

Featured images: TAU Prof. Ram Fishman and agricultural expert Omar Zaidan explain seedling use to farmers in India. Credit: the Nitzan Lab

Related posts

Want to Live Longer? Find Out if You Snore

May 15, 2022

TAU Researchers Invent Healthy Weapon Against Covid

April 14, 2022

Is the Vaccine Safe? Consult the Smart Sensor!

April 11, 2022

TAU Nanodrug Enables 2-in-1 Attack on Cancer

April 5, 2022

Minor Head Injury Leads to Chronic Post-Concussion Syndrome in 1 of 4 Children

March 28, 2022

Inventive Study to Develop Biological Solutions for Agriculture

March 27, 2022

TAU Technology Could Prevent Repeat Heart Valve Surgery

March 24, 2022

Israeli Breakthrough in Treating PTSD

February 22, 2022

Can Higher Temperatures Accelerate the Rate of Evolution?

February 16, 2022

Discovery May Enable Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s

February 15, 2022

TAU Breakthrough Offers New Hope to Help People With Paralysis Walk Again

February 3, 2022

Ketogenic Diet Likely to Reduce Damage from Traumatic Brain Injuries

January 25, 2022

Reading Tea Leaves

January 25, 2022

Viruses and Game Theory

January 24, 2022

What’s The Link Between Electrical Voltage and Brain Adaptability?

January 23, 2022

As Pandemic Persists, TAU Forges Ahead with COVID-19 Research on All Fronts

December 30, 2021

Rising Temperatures Fuel Increase in Violence: TAU Study

December 26, 2021

Medicinal Cannabis Oil Effective for Treating Autism

December 22, 2021

Parent Smartphone Use Could Harm Child Development

December 19, 2021

Breakthrough TAU Discovery Key to Reversing ALS

December 16, 2021

Experimental Drug Displays Effectiveness in Treating Symptoms of Autism and Alzheimer’s Disease

December 15, 2021

Seaweed – A Promising Defense Against Covid-19

December 15, 2021

New Ethical Code for World Research of Ancient DNA

December 14, 2021

Saving Lives with Artificial Intelligence

December 9, 2021

TAU Experts on Omicron: “Don’t Panic”

December 7, 2021

Tired of The Lies?

November 23, 2021

Britain and Israel Team Up on Challenge of Healthy Ageing

November 10, 2021

TAU Researchers Identify COVID Proteins that Cause Strokes and Heart Attacks

November 8, 2021

Can’t Multitask Anymore?

October 6, 2021

Why Do We Squabble Over The AC?

October 5, 2021

The Immune System’s Double Agents

October 5, 2021

Help A Friend Out?

September 30, 2021

Using ‘Good’ Bacteria to Fight ‘Bad’ Bacteria

September 29, 2021

Recruiting ‘Fighting Cells’ to Destroy Tumors

September 14, 2021

TAU Team Reverses Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

September 10, 2021

Nicotine Testing of Children Curbs Parents’ Smoking

September 5, 2021

Want to Fall in Love? Step Outside in The Sun

August 31, 2021

The Silent Prophets

August 31, 2021

First 3D-bioprinting of entire active tumor

August 18, 2021

New Warning Sign for Breast Cancer

August 6, 2021

COVID-19 Immunity Varies Among Genders and Age Groups

July 26, 2021

Tel Aviv Bats Have More Fun

July 22, 2021

New study found differences between women and men in the level of COVID-19 antibodies

July 15, 2021

A world first: Technology that restores the sense of touch in nerves damaged as a result of amputation or injury

July 15, 2021

TAU Medical Student to Swim for Israel at Summer Olympics

July 15, 2021

New nanotech from TAU produces “healthy” electric current from the human body itself

July 9, 2021

Introducing the world’s thinnest technology – only two atoms thick

July 2, 2021

Want to Live a Long Life? Consider Investing in Your Marriage.

July 2, 2021

A world first: Targeted delivery of therapeutic RNAs only to cancer cells, with no harm caused to healthy cells

June 30, 2021

Combating Antibiotic Resistance

June 22, 2021

Pursuing the Unknown

Copyright ©  Tel Aviv University Trust. All rights reserved.
Registered charity number 314179.