The Health of Nations

The Health of Nations

Infectious Disease, Environmental Change, and Their Effects on National Security and Development

By Andrew T. Price-Smith





In recent decades, new pathogens such as HIV, the Ebola virus, and the BSE prion have emerged, while old scourges such as tuberculosis, cholera, and malaria have grown increasingly resistant to treatment. The global spread of disease does not threaten the human species, but it threatens the prosperity and stability of human societies.

In this pathbreaking book, Andrew Price-Smith investigates the influence of infectious disease on nations' stability and prosperity. He also provides a theoretical and empirical foundation for the emerging field of health security. Price-Smith shows that the global proliferation of infectious disease will limit the ability of states to govern themselves effectively and to maximize their economic power. Because infectious disease can cause poverty, intra-state violence and political instability may increase. This in turn may have negative long-term effects on regional economic and political stability, damaging international relations and development.

Price-Smith takes an interdisciplinary approach to topics ranging from the effects of global environmental change on the spread of disease to the feedback loop between public health and the strength of a nation's economy and its political stability over time. As the proliferation of infectious disease threatens international stability and the policy interests of the United States in years to come, its study will become an increasingly important subfield of political science.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262162036 232 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$25.00 X ISBN: 9780262661232 232 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • The Health of Nations will be known as the book on the political economy of disease for some time to come.

    Dennis Pirages

    Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland

  • The resurgence of infectious disease and climate change—two symptoms of global change—present growing threats to our biological security and international stability. Andrew Price-Smith's timely analysis, appearing as environmental, energy and economic crises converge, provides the rationale for promptly establishing funds and creating the governance structure to propel and coordinate a cleaner, healthier and more equitable form of development.

    Paul R. Epstein, M.D., M.P.H.

    Associate Director, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School

  • Andrew Price-Smith's book is a pioneering treatment of the relationship between infectious disease, political order, and economic development in poor countries. This issue will be a critical concern of international policymakers in the 21st century.

    Thomas Homer-Dixon

    Peace and Conflict Studies Program, University of Toronto

  • If you think national security is only about a missile being launched from North Korea or expansionist incursions from Iraq, you missed what has been happening in the world over the last twenty years. Price-Smith's Health of Nations brilliantly demonstrates why infectious diseases are a clear and present danger.

    Jordan S. Kassalow

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Global Health Policy, Council on Foreign Relations

  • Andrew Price-Smith's The Health of Nations is a riveting and vital read. Price-Smith documents the major and growing role of disease in stunting development, and the growing role of environmental change in the emergence of new diseases. This book is required reading for anyone interested in international relations, comparative politics, international organization, and health policy—or indeed, anyone on this planet with a body.

    Daniel H. Deudney

    Department of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University

  • The Health of Nations addresses the very important public policy issues of the effects of diseases on people's welfare and international relations. Andrew Price-Smith explores some of the ways in which the prevalence of diseases can undermine international commerce and can promote interstate conflicts. An important contribution to the literature on global public health.

    Mark Zacher

    Institute of International Relations, University of British Columbia