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Income Distribution, Infant Mortality, and Health Care Expenditure

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Do health outcomes depend on relative income as well as on an individual?s absolute level of income? We use infant mortality as a health status indicator and ?nd a signi?cant and positive link between infant mortality and income inequality using cross-national data for 98 countries. Holding constant the income of each of the three poorest quintiles of a country's population, we ?nd that an increase in the income of the upper 20% of the income distribution is associated with higher, not lower infant mortality. Our results imply that a one percentage point decrease in the income share of the richest quintile correlates with a decrease in infant mortality by nearly two percent. The surprisingly positive coe¢cient becomes insignificant when we control for public health care expenditure. Low public expenditure on health care seems to translate into limited access to health care for the poor.

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  • Tilman Tacke & Robert J. Waldmann, 2009. "Income Distribution, Infant Mortality, and Health Care Expenditure," CEIS Research Paper 146, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 30 Sep 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:rtv:ceisrp:146
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    1. Angus Deaton, 2003. "Health, Inequality, and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 113-158.
    2. Robert H. Frank, 2005. "Positional Externalities Cause Large and Preventable Welfare Losses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 137-141, May.
    3. Robert J. Waldmann, 1992. "Income Distribution and Infant Mortality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(4), pages 1283-1302.
    4. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2014. "Economic Consequences of Mispredicting Utility," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, pages 937-956.
    5. Lant Pritchett & Lawrence H. Summers, 1996. "Wealthier is Healthier," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 841-868.
    6. Jennifer M. Mellor & Jeffrey Milyo, 1999. "Re-Examining the Evidence of an Ecological Association between Income Inequality and Health," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9922, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    7. John Wildman & Hugh Gravelle & Matthew Sutton, 2003. "Health and income inequality: attempting to avoid the aggregation problem," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(9), pages 999-1004.
    8. Adda, Jerome & Chandola, Tarani & Marmot, Michael, 2003. "Socio-economic status and health: causality and pathways," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 57-63, January.
    9. Le Grand, Julian, 1987. "Inequalities in health : Some international comparisons," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-2), pages 182-191.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fabrizio Carmignani & Sriram Shankar & Eng Tan & Kam Tang, 2014. "Identifying covariates of population health using extreme bound analysis," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 15(5), pages 515-531, June.

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