[Accessed 9 Jan 2021]
The development of nations conditions the disease space
Antonios Garas, Sophie Guthmuller, Athanasios Lapatinas
Research Article | published 07 Jan 2021 PLOS ONE
Using the economic complexity methodology on data for disease prevalence in 195 countries during the period of 1990-2016, we propose two new metrics for quantifying the disease space of countries. With these metrics, we analyze the geography of diseases and empirically investigate the effect of economic development on the health complexity of countries. We show that a higher income per capita increases the complexity of countries’ diseases. We also show that complex diseases tend to be non-ubiquitous diseases that are prevalent in disease-diversified (complex) countries, while non-complex diseases tend to be non-ubiquitous diseases that are prevalent in non-diversified (non-complex) countries. Furthermore, we build a disease-level index that links a disease to the average level of GDP per capita of the countries in which the disease is prevalent. With this index, we highlight the link between economic development and the complexity of diseases and illustrate how increases in income per capita are associated with more complex diseases.