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Wealthy and Healthy in the South Pacific

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Objectives- The main aim of this paper is to analyse the relationship between socio-economic status and health status at the household level in Fiji, a developing country in the South Pacific, based on original household survey data compiled by the authors Method- We exploit the geographic conditions of Viti Levu, the relatively small main island of Fiji, to isolate the effects of household wealth on health. For households on this island physical distance is not a significant impediment for access to health care and other publicly-provided services. We use a constructed index of household wealth in place of the more commonly used income measure of socio-economic status. To control for reverse causality and other possible sources of endogeneity we use an Instrumental Variable strategy in the regression analysis. Findings- We find that a household’s socio-economic status, as measured by a constructed wealth index, has a substantial impact on the household’s health status. We estimate that if a household's wealth increased from the minimum to the maximum level, this would decrease its probability of being afflicted by an incapacitating illness by almost 50 per cent. Conclusions- Health outcomes from existing health services can therefore be improved by raising the economic well-being of poor households. Conversely, the provision of additional health services alone may not necessarily improve health outcomes for the poorest.

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Paper provided by School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia in its series Discussion Papers Series with number 378.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:qld:uq2004:378

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  1. Briguglio, Lino, 1995. "Small island developing states and their economic vulnerabilities," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(9), pages 1615-1632, September.
  2. Ettner, Susan L., 1996. "New evidence on the relationship between income and health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 67-85, February.
  3. Huisman, Martijn & Kunst, Anton E. & Mackenbach, Johan P., 2003. "Socioeconomic inequalities in morbidity among the elderly; a European overview," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 57(5), pages 861-873, September.
  4. Sahn, David E. & Stifel, David C., 2000. "Poverty Comparisons Over Time and Across Countries in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 2123-2155, December.
  5. Smith, Kimberly V. & Goldman, Noreen, 2007. "Socioeconomic differences in health among older adults in Mexico," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(7), pages 1372-1385, October.
  6. World Bank, 2008. "The Migration and Remittances Factbook 2008," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6383, July.
  7. Grosh, M.E. & Munoz, J., 1996. "A Manual for Planning and Implementing the Living Standards Measurement Study Survey," Papers 126, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
  8. Meer, Jonathan & Miller, Douglas L. & Rosen, Harvey S., 2003. "Exploring the health-wealth nexus," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 713-730, September.
  9. 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.
  10. Deon Filmer & Lant Pritchett, 1999. "The Effect of Household Wealth on Educational Attainment: Evidence from 35 Countries," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 25(1), pages 85-120.
  11. David E. Sahn & David Stifel, 2003. "Exploring Alternative Measures of Welfare in the Absence of Expenditure Data," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 49(4), pages 463-489, December.
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