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World health inequality: Convergence, divergence, and development

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  • Clark, Rob

Abstract

Recent studies characterize the last half of the twentieth century as an era of cross-national health convergence, with some attributing welfare gains in the developing world to economic growth. In this study, I examine the extent to which welfare outcomes have actually converged and the extent to which economic development is responsible for the observed trends. Drawing from estimates covering 195 nations during the 1955-2005 period, I find that life expectancy averages converged during this time, but that infant mortality rates continuously diverged. I develop a narrative that implicates economic development in these contrasting trends, suggesting that health outcomes follow a "welfare Kuznets curve." Among poor countries, economic development improves life expectancy more than it reduces infant mortality, whereas the situation is reversed among wealthier nations. In this way, development has contributed to both convergence in life expectancy and divergence in infant mortality. Drawing from 674 observations across 163 countries during the 1980-2005 period, I find that the positive effect of GDP PC on life expectancy attenuates at higher levels of development, while the negative effect of GDP PC on infant mortality grows stronger.

Suggested Citation

  • Clark, Rob, 2011. "World health inequality: Convergence, divergence, and development," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(4), pages 617-624, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:72:y:2011:i:4:p:617-624
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Simplice Asongu & Ivo Leke, 2017. "External Flows and Inclusive Human Development in Sub-Saharan Africa," Working Papers 17/058, African Governance and Development Institute..
    2. Bousmah, Marwân-al-Qays & Ventelou, Bruno & Abu-Zaineh, Mohammad, 2016. "Medicine and democracy: The importance of institutional quality in the relationship between health expenditure and health outcomes in the MENA region," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(8), pages 928-935.
    3. Sweidan, Osama D. & Alwaked, Ahmed A., 2016. "Economic development and the energy intensity of human well-being: Evidence from the GCC countries," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 1363-1369.
    4. Hippolyte d'Albis & Loesse Jacques Esso & Héctor Pifarré i Arolas, 2012. "Mortality Convergence Across High-Income Countries: An Econometric Approach," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 12076, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    5. José Villaverde & Adolfo Maza & María Hierro, 2014. "Health care expenditure disparities in the European Union and underlying factors: a distribution dynamics approach," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 251-268, September.
    6. Simplice A. Asongu & Jacinta C. Nwachukwu, 2016. "Rational Asymmetric Development, Piketty and Poverty in Africa," European Journal of Comparative Economics, Cattaneo University (LIUC), vol. 13(2), pages 221-246, December.
    7. repec:spr:eurpop:v:33:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1007_s10680-017-9451-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Srinivas, Goli, 2014. "Demographic convergence and its linkage with health inequalities in India," MPRA Paper 79823, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 05 Dec 2014.
    9. Laia Maynou & Marc Saez & Jordi Bacaria & Guillem Lopez-Casasnovas, 2015. "Health inequalities in the European Union: an empirical analysis of the dynamics of regional differences," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 16(5), pages 543-559, June.
    10. Brandt, Martina & Deindl, Christian & Hank, Karsten, 2012. "Tracing the origins of successful aging: The role of childhood conditions and social inequality in explaining later life health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(9), pages 1418-1425.
    11. Nesson, Erik T. & Robinson, Joshua J., 2015. "An information theory based framework for the measurement of population health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 86-103.
    12. Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay & Elliott Green, 2013. "Urbanization and Mortality Decline," Working Papers 46, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research.
    13. Jorgenson, Andrew K. & Alekseyko, Alina & Giedraitis, Vincentas, 2014. "Energy consumption, human well-being and economic development in central and eastern European nations: A cautionary tale of sustainability," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 419-427.
    14. Simplice Asongu, 2015. "Rational Asymmetric Development, Piketty and the Spirit of Poverty in Africa," Working Papers 15/006, African Governance and Development Institute..
    15. Simplice Asongu, 2014. "African Development: Beyond Income Convergence," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 82(3), pages 334-353, September.

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