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Measuring Health Inequality with Categorical Data: Some Regional Patterns

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  • Joan Costa-i-Font
  • Frank Cowell

Abstract

Much of the theoretical literature on inequality assumes that the equalisand is a cardinal variable like income or wealth. However, health status is generally measured as a categorical variable expressing a qualitative order. Traditional solutions involve reclassifying the variable by means of qualitative models and relying on inequality measures that are mean independent. We argue that the way status is conceptualized has important theoretical implications for measurement as well as for policy analysis. We also bring to the data a recently proposed approach to measuring self-reported health inequality that meets both rigorous and practical considerations. We draw upon the World Health Survey data to examine alternative pragmatic methods for making health inequality comparisons. Findings suggest significant differences in health inequality measurement and that regional and country patterns of inequality orderings do not coincide with any reasonable categorization of countries by health system organization.

Suggested Citation

  • Joan Costa-i-Font & Frank Cowell, 2013. "Measuring Health Inequality with Categorical Data: Some Regional Patterns," CESifo Working Paper Series 4427, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4427
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Paul Makdissi & Myra Yazbeck, 2014. "Robust Wagstaff Orderings of Distributions of Self-Reported Health Status," Discussion Papers Series 533, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    2. Gunawan, David & Griffiths, William E. & Chotikapanich, Duangkamon, 2018. "Bayesian inference for health inequality and welfare using qualitative data," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 76-80.
    3. Joan Costa-i-Font & Frank Cowell & Belén Saénz de Miera Juárez, 2017. "Does Insurance Expansion Alter Health Inequality and Mobility? Evidence from the Mexican Seguro Popular," CESifo Working Paper Series 6788, CESifo.
    4. Joan Costa-Font & Cristina Hernandez-Quevedo & Azusa Sato, 2018. "A Health ‘Kuznets’ Curve’? Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Evidence on Concentration Indices’," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 136(2), pages 439-452, April.
    5. Costa-Font, Joan & Cowell, Frank, 2016. "The measurement of health inequalities: does status matter?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 67976, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    health inequality; categorical data; health surveys; upward status; downward status;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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