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The impact of health on poverty: Evidence from the South African integrated family survey


  • Susan Godlonton
  • Malcolm Keswell


This paper examines the impact of health status on poverty status, accounting for the endogeneity of health status. Using exogenous measures of health status from the South African Integrated Health Survey, we instrument for health status while allowing for covariation among the unobservables influencing both health and household poverty status. Health status, as captured by the body mass index, is shown to strongly influence poverty status. Households that contain more unhealthy individuals are 60% more likely to be income poor than households that contain fewer unhealthy individuals, and this finding appears invariant to the choice of poverty line.

Suggested Citation

  • Susan Godlonton & Malcolm Keswell, 2004. "The impact of health on poverty: Evidence from the South African integrated family survey," SALDRU/CSSR Working Papers 081, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
  • Handle: RePEc:ldr:cssrwp:081

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carter, Michael R. & May, Julian, 1999. "Poverty, livelihood and class in rural South Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 1-20, January.
    2. Ettner, Susan L., 1996. "New evidence on the relationship between income and health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 67-85, February.
    3. Esther Duflo, 2000. "Child Health and Household Resources in South Africa: Evidence from the Old Age Pension Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 393-398, May.
    4. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
    5. Edward Miguel & Michael Kremer, 2004. "Worms: Identifying Impacts on Education and Health in the Presence of Treatment Externalities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 159-217, January.
    6. Glewwe, Paul & Jacoby, Hanan G, 1995. "An Economic Analysis of Delayed Primary School Enrollment in a Low Income Country: The Role of Early Childhood Nutrition," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(1), pages 156-169, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mussa, Richard, 2009. "Impact of fertility on objective and subjective poverty in Malawi," MPRA Paper 16089, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. cyrine hannafi & Christophe Muller, 2016. "The Poverty-Economic Growth-Health Triangle," EcoMod2016 9587, EcoMod.
    3. Martine Visser & Frikkie Booysen, 2004. "Determinants of the choice of health care facility utilised by individuals in HIV/AIDS-affected households in the Free State province of South Africa," SALDRU/CSSR Working Papers 087, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    4. Leonardo Becchetti & Giuseppina Gianfreda, 2008. "When consumption heals producers: the effect of fair trade on marginalised producers’ health and productivity," Working Papers 86, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    5. Katherine Eyal & Justine Burns, 2016. "Up or Down? Intergenerational Mental Health Transmission and Cash Transfers in South Africa," SALDRU Working Papers 165, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.

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