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The Effect of a Constitutional Right to Health on Population Health in 157 Countries, 1970–2007: the Role of Democratic Governance

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  • Hiroaki Matsuura

    () (University of Oxford)

Abstract

A number of studies have evaluated the effect of a right to health as a mechanism for achieving desirable health outcomes, yet no study has sought institutional conditions that make this mechanism more effective at population level.I hypothesise whether a right to health is only an effective instrument for improving health in countries that demonstrate good governance in which effective mechanisms for enforcing the right to health, as well as controlling government behaviour, exist. Annual data from 1970 to 2007 was obtained for a panel of 157 countries, to study the effects of introducing into national constitutions an explicit, enforceable, right to health and democratic governance on infant and under-five mortality rates. The introduction of a right to health in a national constitution was significantly associated with reductions in both mean infant and under-five mortality rates. The effect was large in countries with high scores for democratic governance, whereas in countries with low scores for democratic governance, approximately half of the effect of introducing a constitutional right to health was present. The results suggest that introducing a constitutional right to health is likely to be an effective mechanism for improving health in countries that have a high level of democratic governance. However, whereas a right to health is likely to be less effective in countries with low scores for democratic governance in the short run, there can be a longer term health benefits if governance subsequently improves, the right to health remains in the constitution.

Suggested Citation

  • Hiroaki Matsuura, 2013. "The Effect of a Constitutional Right to Health on Population Health in 157 Countries, 1970–2007: the Role of Democratic Governance," PGDA Working Papers 10613, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
  • Handle: RePEc:gdm:wpaper:10613
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    File URL: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/pgda/WorkingPapers/2013/PGDA_WP_106.pdf
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. #HEJC papers for September 2013
      by academichealtheconomists in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2013-09-01 04:01:38

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jcecon:v:45:y:2017:i:3:p:563-581 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Joshua C. Gellers & Christopher Jeffords, 2015. "Procedural Environmental Rights and Environmental Justice: Assessing the Impact of Environmental Constitutionalism," Economic Rights Working Papers 25, University of Connecticut, Human Rights Institute.
    3. Christopher Jeffords, 2015. "A Panel Data Analysis of the Effects of Constitutional Environmental Rights Provisions on Access to Improved Sanitation Facilities and Water Sources," Economic Rights Working Papers 24, University of Connecticut, Human Rights Institute.
    4. Hiroaki Matsuura, 2014. "Does the Constitutional Right to Health Matter? A Review of Current Evidence," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 12(2), pages 35-41, 07.
    5. repec:ces:ifodic:v:12:y:2014:i:2:p:19116213 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Kodila-Tedika, Oasis & Mulunda Kabange, Martin, 2018. "Constitutional instability and Poverty: Some Empirical Evidence," MPRA Paper 84501, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Hiroaki Matsuura, 2016. "Constitutional social and environmental human rights and child health outcomes in Latin American countries," WIDER Working Paper Series 168, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Population health; Constitutional right to health; Democratic governance;

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