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Consumption, health, gender and poverty

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  • Anne Case

    (Princeton University)

  • Angus Deaton

    (Princeton University)

Abstract

Standard methods of poverty measurement assume that an individual is poor if he or she lives in a family whose income or consumption lies below an appropriate poverty line. Such methods can provide only limited insight into male and female poverty separately. Nevertheless, there are reasons why household resources are linked to the gender composition of the household; women’s earnings are often lower than men, families in some countries control their fertility through differential stopping rules, and women live longer than men. It is also possible to link family expenditure patterns to the gender composition of the household, something we illustrate using data from India and South Africa. Such a procedure provides useful information on who gets what, but cannot tell us how total resources are allocated between males and females. More can be gleaned from data on consumption by individual household members, and for many goods, collecting such information is good survey practice in any case. Even so, we suspect that it will be some time before such information can be used routinely to produce estimates of poverty by gender. A more promising approach is likely to come within a broader definition of poverty that includes health (and possibly education) as well as income. We discuss recent work on collecting self-reported measures of non-fatal health, and argue that such measures are already useful for assessing the relative health status of males and females. The evidence is consistent with non-elderly women generally having poorer health than non-elderly men. We emphasize the importance of simultaneously measuring poverty in multiple dimensions. The different components of wellbeing are correlated, and it is misleading to look at any one in isolation from the others.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing. in its series Working Papers with number 261.

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Date of creation: Jul 2002
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Handle: RePEc:pri:cheawb:case_deaton_consumption_health_gender

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Cited by:
  1. Geeta G. Kingdon, 2003. "Where has all the bias gone? Detecting gender-bias in the household allocation of educational expenditure," CSAE Working Paper Series 2003-13, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  2. Patricia Justino, 2005. "Empirical Applications of Multidimensional Inequality Analysis," PRUS Working Papers 23, Poverty Research Unit at Sussex, University of Sussex.
  3. Rana Ejaz Ali Khan & Karamat Ali, 2005. "Bargaining Over Sons' and Daughters' Schooling-Probit Analysis of Household Behavior," HEW 0505002, EconWPA.
  4. Chaudhury, Nazmul & Hammer, Jeffrey & Murrugarra, Edmundo, 2003. "The effects of a fee-waiver program on health care utilization among the poor : evidence from Armenia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2952, The World Bank.
  5. Lee, Yiu-fai Daniel, 2008. "Do families spend more on boys than on girls? Empirical evidence from rural China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 80-100, March.
  6. Anne Case & Angela Fertig & Christina Paxson, 2003. "From Cradle to Grave? The Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance," NBER Working Papers 9788, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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