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Health expenditures in Latin America and the Caribbean


  • Govindaraj, Ramesh
  • Chellaraj, Gnanaraj
  • Murray, Christopher J. L.


This paper presents the results of a study commissioned by the Latin American and Caribbean Technical Department of the World Bank to document and analyze health expenditures in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 1990, the countries of this region spent US$ 69 billion on health, with an average per capita health expenditure of US$ 162. On average, the countries spent 6.2% of their GDP on health, with the expenditures divided about equally between the public and private sectors. In both the public and private sectors, per capita health expenditures were positively and significantly correlated with per capita income. However, this relationship holds only for the public sector, when health expenditures are measured as a proportion of GDP. While several poorer countries were dependent on external assistance, with increasing income, the countries relied more on public expenditures to finance health care. Based on the limited time series data, it is evident that there was a considerable variation among countries regarding the proportion spent on capital investments, primary health care, and drugs, but not on salaries. Looking ahead, with increasing economic development, the proportion of GDP spent on health, along with public health expenditure as a proportion of total health expenditure, is likely to increase rapidly, while aid dependency is likely to decline.

Suggested Citation

  • Govindaraj, Ramesh & Chellaraj, Gnanaraj & Murray, Christopher J. L., 1997. "Health expenditures in Latin America and the Caribbean," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 157-169, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:44:y:1997:i:2:p:157-169

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    Cited by:

    1. Bosello, Francesco & Roson, Roberto & Tol, Richard S.J., 2006. "Economy-wide estimates of the implications of climate change: Human health," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 579-591, June.
    2. Dihel, Nora, 2005. "Impact of services barriers on effective rates of protection in agriculture and manufacturing," Conference papers 331387, Purdue University, Center for Global Trade Analysis, Global Trade Analysis Project.


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