Do Political Institutions protect the poor? Intra Countries Health Inequalities and Air Pollution in Developing Countries
This paper examines the link between health inequalities, air pollution and political institutions. In health economics literature, many studies have assessed the association between environmental degradation and health outcomes. This paper extends this literature by investigating how air pollution could explain health inequalities both between and within developing countries, and the role of political institutions in this relationship. Theoretically, we argue that differential in exposition to air pollution among income classes, prevention ability against health effect of environment degradation, capacity to respond to disease caused by pollutants and susceptibility of some groups to air pollution effect are sufficient to expect a positive link between air pollution and income related health inequality. Furthermore, in democratic countries, this heterogeneity in the health effect of pollution may be mitigated since good institutions favour universal health policy issues, information and advices about hygiene and health practices, and health infrastructures building. Our econometric results show that sulphur dioxide emission (SO2) and particulate matter (PM10) are in part responsible for the large disparities in infant and child mortalities between and within developing countries. In addition, we found that democratic institutions play the role of social protection by mitigating this effect for the poorest income classes and reducing the health inequality it provokes.
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