Health Economics for Low-Income Countries

81 Pages Posted: 23 May 2007

See all articles by Germano Mwabu

Germano Mwabu

University of Nairobi - Department of Economics

Date Written: May 2007


Good health is a determinant of economic growth and a component of well-being. This paper discusses and synthesizes economic models of individual and household behavior, showing how they may be used to illuminate health policy making in low-income countries. The models could help address questions such as: How can the health of the poor be improved, and what are the economic consequences of better health? What policies would improve intra-household distribution of health outcomes?

An extensive literature on health human capital and household models, and on related field experiments is reviewed in an attempt to answer these questions. It is found that there are large returns to health improvements in low-income countries. Moreover, health improvements in poor nations can be achieved through implementation of simple interventions such as dietary supplements, control of parasitic diseases, and pro-poor social expenditures. The paper concludes with a discussion of these policy options.

Keywords: Health Production, Health Care Markets, Household Production and Intrahousehold Allocation, Health Economics, Low-income countries

JEL Classification: I12, I11, D13, O12

Suggested Citation

Mwabu, Germano, Health Economics for Low-Income Countries (May 2007). Yale University Economic Growth Center Discussion Paper No. 955, Available at SSRN:

Germano Mwabu (Contact Author)

University of Nairobi - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 30197
2542226451 (Phone)

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