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World health inequality: Convergence, divergence, and development

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  • Clark, Rob
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    Abstract

    Recent studies characterize the last half of the twentieth century as an era of cross-national health convergence, with some attributing welfare gains in the developing world to economic growth. In this study, I examine the extent to which welfare outcomes have actually converged and the extent to which economic development is responsible for the observed trends. Drawing from estimates covering 195 nations during the 1955-2005 period, I find that life expectancy averages converged during this time, but that infant mortality rates continuously diverged. I develop a narrative that implicates economic development in these contrasting trends, suggesting that health outcomes follow a "welfare Kuznets curve." Among poor countries, economic development improves life expectancy more than it reduces infant mortality, whereas the situation is reversed among wealthier nations. In this way, development has contributed to both convergence in life expectancy and divergence in infant mortality. Drawing from 674 observations across 163 countries during the 1980-2005 period, I find that the positive effect of GDP PC on life expectancy attenuates at higher levels of development, while the negative effect of GDP PC on infant mortality grows stronger.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 72 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 4 (February)
    Pages: 617-624

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:72:y:2011:i:4:p:617-624

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    Keywords: Cross-national Development Health inequality Life expectancy Infant mortality;

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    Cited by:
    1. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00755682 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Jorgenson, Andrew K. & Alekseyko, Alina & Giedraitis, Vincentas, 2014. "Energy consumption, human well-being and economic development in central and eastern European nations: A cautionary tale of sustainability," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 419-427.
    3. Asongu Simplice, 2012. "African Development: Beyond Income Convergence," Working Papers 12/002, African Governance and Development Institute..
    4. Hippolyte d'Albis & Loesse Jacques Esso & Héctor Pifarré i Arolas, 2012. "Mortality Convergence Across High-Income Countries: An Econometric Approach," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 12076, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    5. Brandt, Martina & Deindl, Christian & Hank, Karsten, 2012. "Tracing the origins of successful aging: The role of childhood conditions and social inequality in explaining later life health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(9), pages 1418-1425.
    6. Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay & Elliott Green, 2013. "Urbanization and Mortality Decline," Working Papers 46, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research.

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