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Health and Well-Being in Udaipur and South Africa

In: Developments in the Economics of Aging

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  • Anne Case
  • Angus Deaton

Abstract

This paper presents a descriptive account of health and economic status in India and South Africa – countries in very different positions in the international hierarchy of life expectancy and income. The paper emphasizes the lack of any simple and reliable relationship between health and wealth between and within our sites in rural Rajasthan, in a shack township outside of Cape Town, and in a rural South African site that, until 1994, was part of a Bantustan. Income levels across our sites are roughly in the ratio of 4:2:1, with urban South Africa richest and rural Rajasthan poorest, while ownership of durable goods, often used as a short-cut measure or check of living standards, are in the ratio of 3:2:1. These differences in economic status are reflected in respondents’ own reports of financial status. People know that they are poor, but appear to adapt their expectations to local conditions, at least to some extent. The South Africans are taller and heavier than the Indians—although their children are no taller at the same age. South African self-assessed physical and mental health is no better, and South Africans are more likely to report that they have to miss meals for lack of money. In spite of differences in incomes across the three sites, South Africans and Indians report a very similar list of symptoms of ill-health. Although they have much lower incomes, urban women in South Africa have fully caught up with black American women in the prevalence of obesity, and are catching up in terms of hypertension. These women have the misfortune to be experiencing many of the diseases of affluence without experiencing affluence itself.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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This chapter was published in:

  • David A. Wise, 2009. "Developments in the Economics of Aging," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number wise09-1.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11322.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11322

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    1. Gary S. Becker & Tomas J. Philipson & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2005. "The Quantity and Quality of Life and the Evolution of World Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 277-291, March.
    2. Filmer, Deon & Pritchett, Lant, 1998. "Estimating wealth effects without expenditure data - or tears : with an application to educational enrollments in states of India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1994, The World Bank.
    3. Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Stature and the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1903-1940, December.
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    Cited by:
    1. Anne Case & Alicia Menendez, 2007. "Sex Differences in Obesity Rates in Poor Countries: Evidence from South Africa," NBER Working Papers 13541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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