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Equity in Access to Health Services in Developing Countries


  • Jean-Claude Berthélemy
  • Juliette Seban


In the decade 2000-2010, development policy has given health care higher priority, which has translated as a sharp global increase in health expenditure. This increase can only effectively help reduce poverty if the expenditure is efficient and if access to health services becomes more equitable. This paper contributes to the study of health equity in developing countries, focusing specifically on child and mother health care services. Our research highlights that increased public health expenditure is directed more towards the poor than the rich, but that health equity is only marginally improved. We also find that access to health services is significantly dependent on household socioeconomics, including the mother’s level of education. A policy targeting better schooling for girls would therefore significantly improve access to health services among poor populations. Finally, we identify several dimensions of governance that could help significantly close the health equity gap. JEL Classification: I1, I3.

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-Claude Berthélemy & Juliette Seban, 2009. "Equity in Access to Health Services in Developing Countries," Revue d’économie du développement, De Boeck Université, vol. 17(5), pages 9-40.
  • Handle: RePEc:cai:edddbu:edd_235_0009

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    More about this item


    health; equity; developing country;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty


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