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Wealthier is Healthier


  • Lant Pritchett
  • Lawrence H. Summers


We estimate the effect of income on health using cross-country, time-series data on health (infant and child mortality and life expectancy) and income per capita. We use instrumental variables estimates using exogenous determinants of income growth to identify the pure income effect on health, isolated from reverse causation or incidental association. The long-run income elasticity of infant and child mortality in developing countries lies between -0.2 and -0.4. Using these estimates, we calculate that over a half a million child deaths in the developing world in 1990 alone can be attributed to the poor economic performance in the 1980s.

Suggested Citation

  • Lant Pritchett & Lawrence H. Summers, 1996. "Wealthier is Healthier," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 841-868.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:31:y:1996:i:4:p:841-868

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Easterly, William & Kremer, Michael & Pritchett, Lant & Summers, Lawrence H., 1993. "Good policy or good luck?: Country growth performance and temporary shocks," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 459-483, December.
    2. Haggblade, Steven & Hazell, Peter & Brown, James, 1989. "Farm-nonfarm linkages in rural sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 17(8), pages 1173-1201, August.
    3. Ravallion, Martin, 1990. "Income Effects on Undernutrition," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(3), pages 489-515, April.
    4. Levine, Ross & Renelt, David, 1992. "A Sensitivity Analysis of Cross-Country Growth Regressions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 942-963, September.
    5. Bos, Eduard & Vu, My T. & Stephens, Patience W., 1992. "Sources of World Bank estimates of current mortality rates," Policy Research Working Paper Series 851, The World Bank.
    6. Sudhir Anand & Martin Ravallion, 1993. "Human Development in Poor Countries: On the Role of Private Incomes and Public Services," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 133-150, Winter.
    7. MacKinnon, James G. & White, Halbert, 1985. "Some heteroskedasticity-consistent covariance matrix estimators with improved finite sample properties," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 305-325, September.
    8. Robert William Fogel, 1990. "The Conquest of High Mortality and Hunger in Europe and America: Timing and Mechanisms," NBER Historical Working Papers 0016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Thomas, Duncan & Strauss, John & Henriques, Maria-Helena, 1990. "Child survival, height for age and household characteristics in Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 197-234, October.
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