Income Distribution, Infant Mortality, and Health Care Expenditure
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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|Date of revision:||30 Sep 2009|
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