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Clusters of poverty and disease emerge from feedbacks on an epidemiological network.

Abstract

The distribution of health conditions is characterized by extreme inequality. These disparities have been alternately attributed to disease ecology and the economics of poverty. Here, we provide a novel framework that integrates epidemiological and economic growth theory on an individual-based hierarchically structured network. Our model indicates that, under certain parameter regimes, feedbacks between disease ecology and economics create clusters of low income and high disease that can stably persist in populations that become otherwise predominantly rich and free of disease. Surprisingly, unlike traditional poverty trap models, these localized disease-driven poverty traps can arise despite homogeneity of parameters and evenly distributed initial economic conditions.

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