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Abstract: This paper argues that there are two major factors underlying improved global health outcomes. These are, first, the discovery of cheap (and some free) technologies that can dramatically improve health outcomes and, second, the adoption of these technologies thanks to the spread of knowledge. Other factors have played a role. Increased income not only allows for improved nutrition, but also helps to improve access to more complex preventative technologies. Institutional development is a second key to the spread of such complex technologies, as well as an underlying factor behind the start of the spread of health knowledge within a society. Nonetheless, evidence of dramatic health improvements even in environments of weak institutions and stagnant incomes suggests that the role of these factors may be secondary. The paper uses three different data sets and approaches in an attempt to test potential determinants of improved health: a growth residual dataset, a cross-country dataset and a cross-quintile, cross-country dataset based on DHS survey data.