Morbidity Patterns in Kerala: Levels and Determinants

CDS Working Paper No. 411

50 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2010

Date Written: April 1, 2009


This paper examines the levels, patterns, and determinants of morbidity in Kerala. This study is based on a community survey conducted in 2004, in three districts of the state namely Thiruvananthapuram, Malappuram and Kannur. The survey covers 3320 households having 17071 individuals in all age groups. Reported morbidity was captured for period of fifteen days prior to the data of survey. Life course analysis was performed to understand the risk of morbidity at various stages, like infancy, early childhood, late childhood, adolescence, reproductive ages and old age, in relation to the impact of socio-economic, demographic and regional factors.

The level of morbidity is high in Kerala. Generally, higher levels of morbidity have been observed among females, schedule castes, and schedule tribes as compared to their counter parts. Socio-economic and demographic determinants of morbidity varies both region and across various stages of life course. Females are at greater risk of morbidity than males. The risk of morbidity is significantly higher for illiterates and non-formal literate than persons with higher education. Among the important socio-economic determinants, education and SES showed a negative relationship with morbidity. The risk of morbidity for females is lower than males till the age of 34 years and thereafter it reverse. Poor are at greater risk of morbidity than the rich. Disease specific prevalence rate are computed according to the classification manual of World Health Organization. Communicable diseases are coming down in the state.However, non-communicable diseases are mounting irrespective of socio-economic conditions. Major ten diseases with their co-existing ailments were analysed in detail.

Most of the diseases prevalent in Kerala warrant constant medical attention and treatment and sustained medical treatment is beyond the wherewithal of the average households. The private health care system cannot be an answer because of the high average cost of treatment. This warrants greater and sustained efforts by the State in widening the scope of public action.

Keywords: Health Status, Morbidity, Levels and Determinants, life Course Perspective, Kerala

JEL Classification: I10, I12

Suggested Citation

Navaneetham, Kannan, Morbidity Patterns in Kerala: Levels and Determinants (April 1, 2009). CDS Working Paper No. 411. Available at SSRN: or

Kannan Navaneetham (Contact Author)

University of Botswana ( email )

Department of Population Studies
Faculty of Social Sciences
Gaborone, Botswana 00
2673552562 (Phone)

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