Income Distribution, Infant Mortality, and Health Care Expenditure

19 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2009

See all articles by Tilman Tacke

Tilman Tacke

University of Rome Tor Vergata

Robert Waldmann

Universita di Roma Tor Vergata; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: July, 15 2009

Abstract

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 find a significant 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 find 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 coefficient 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.

Suggested Citation

Tacke, Tilman and Waldmann, Robert, Income Distribution, Infant Mortality, and Health Care Expenditure (July, 15 2009). CEIS Working Paper No. 146. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1434514 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1434514

Tilman Tacke

University of Rome Tor Vergata ( email )

Via di Tor Vergata
Rome, Lazio 00133
Italy

Robert Waldmann (Contact Author)

Universita di Roma Tor Vergata ( email )

Piazzale Aldo Moro 5
Roma, Rome 00185
Italy

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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