Former postdoctoral fellow Calistus Ngonghala’s essay examining poverty and disease is featured this week in PLOS Biology. Ngonghala and his co-authors explore how coupled models of ecology and economic growth can provide key insights into factors driving the formation and persistence of poverty traps.
To illustrate the method, the essay presents a simple coupled model of infectious disease and economic growth, which ties capital accumulation to ecological processes. In the model, poverty traps emerge from nonlinear relationships, which are determined by the number of pathogens in the system. The model shows that a system of coupled economic growth and epidemiological dynamics can change underlying equilibrium income and disease phenomena and can generate stability.
The work was begun when Ngonghala was at NIMBioS from August 2011 to September 2013. He is now a research fellow in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.