Global patterns of income and health: facts, interpretations, and policies
AbstractPeople in poor countries live shorter lives than people in rich countries so that, if we scale income by some index of health, there is more inequality in the world than if we consider income alone. Such international inequalities in life expectancy decreased for many years after 1945, and the strong correlation between income and life-expectancy might lead us to hope that economic growth will improve people’s health as well as their material living conditions. I argue that the apparent convergence in life expectancies is not as beneficial as might appear, and that, while economic growth is the key to poverty reduction, there is no evidence that it will deliver automatic health improvements in the absence of appropriate conditions. The strong negative correlation between economic growth on the one hand and the proportionate rate of decline of infant and child mortality on the other vanishes altogether if we look at the relationship between growth and the absolute rate of decline in infant and child mortality. In effect, the correlation is between the level of infant mortality and the growth of real incomes, most likely reflecting the importance of factors such as education and the quality of institutions that affect both health and growth.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing. in its series Working Papers with number 231.
Date of creation: Oct 2006
Date of revision:
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2007-02-24 (All new papers)
- NEP-DEV-2007-02-24 (Development)
- NEP-HEA-2007-02-24 (Health Economics)
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