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The impact of recall periods on reported morbidity and health seeking behavior

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  • Das, Jishnu
  • Hammer, Jeffrey
  • Sánchez-Paramo, Carolina

Abstract

Between 2000 and 2002, we followed 1621 individuals in Delhi, India using a combination of weekly and monthly-recall health questionnaires. In 2008, we augmented these data with another 8weeks of surveys during which households were experimentally allocated to surveys with different recall periods in the second half of the survey. We show that the length of the recall period had a large impact on reported morbidity, doctor visits; time spent sick; whether at least one day of work/school was lost due to sickness and; the reported use of self-medication. The effects are more pronounced among the poor than the rich. In one example, differential recall effects across income groups reverse the sign of the gradient between doctor visits and per-capita expenditures such that the poor use health care providers more than the rich in the weekly recall surveys but less in monthly recall surveys. We hypothesize that illnesses – especially among the poor – are no longer perceived as “extraordinary events” but have become part of “normal” life. We discuss the implications of these results for health survey methodology, and the economic interpretation of sickness in poor populations.

Suggested Citation

  • Das, Jishnu & Hammer, Jeffrey & Sánchez-Paramo, Carolina, 2012. "The impact of recall periods on reported morbidity and health seeking behavior," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 76-88.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:98:y:2012:i:1:p:76-88
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2011.07.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John Strauss & Duncan Thomas, 1998. "Health, Nutrition, and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 766-817, June.
    2. Das, Jishnu & Hammer, Jeffrey, 2004. "Which doctor? Combining vignettes and item response to measure doctor quality," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3301, The World Bank.
    3. Zwane, A. P. & Zinman, J. & Van Dusen, E. & Pariente, W. & Null, C. & Miguel, E. & Kremer, Michael R. & Karlan, D. S. & Hornbeck, Richard A. & Gine, X. & Duflo, E. & Devoto, F. & Crepon, B. & Banerjee, 2011. "Being Surveyed Can Change Later Behavior and Related Parameter Estimates," Scholarly Articles 11339433, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    4. Abhijit Banerjee & Angus Deaton & Esther Duflo, 2004. "Wealth, Health, and Health Services in Rural Rajasthan," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 326-330, May.
    5. Das, Jishnu & Hammer, Jeffrey, 2007. "Money for nothing: The dire straits of medical practice in Delhi, India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 1-36, May.
    6. Kenneth L. Leonard & Melkiory C. Masatu & Alexandre Vialou, 2007. "Getting Doctors to Do Their Best: The Roles of Ability and Motivation in Health Care Quality," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(3).
    7. Adam Wagstaff & Eddy van Doorslaer, 2000. "Measuring and Testing for Inequity in the Delivery of Health Care," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(4), pages 716-733.
    8. Dow, W & Gertly, P & Schoeni, R-F & Strauss, J & Thomas, D, 1997. "Health Care Prices, Health and Labor Outcomes : Experimental Evidence," Papers 97-01, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
    9. Das, Jishnu & Sanchez-Paramo, Carolina, 2003. "Short but not sweet - new evidence on short duration morbidities from India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2971, The World Bank.
    10. Jalan, Jyotsna & Somanathan, E., 2008. "The importance of being informed: Experimental evidence on demand for environmental quality," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 14-28, August.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health; Recall effects; Health seeking behavior; Impacts of sickness;

    JEL classification:

    • D19 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Other
    • I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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