Factors Determining Children's Demand for Medical Care: The Case of Japan
Posted: 17 Jun 2007
Rationale: Health inequality oftentimes lead to the causes and effects of income inequality. For example, if a person were to decide not to see the doctor due to high costs, it is likely that this person's health condition would turn for the worse and, ultimately, this would probably prevent him from getting a better job. As a result, he may eventually find himself in the low-income category. Based on the supposition that health capital can be accumulated, this should be viewed as a major issue of not only adults, but children as well. Moreover, it has been observed that health inequality among children is influenced by the non-economic factors of a household, such as the parents' life-style.
Objectives: The objectives of this paper are to examine the state of health inequaltiy among children in Japan and identify the factors for these differences in health care demand.
Methodology: An analysis was conducted based on health insurance claims data and related survey data. Each of the data sets identify the occupation of each household, which were then matched and converted into one data set. Data include the attributes of parents, their life-style, and record of doctor visits by their children.
Results: The number of visits children made to the doctor primarily depend on the non-economic factors of their household. For instance, hardly any correlation was found between doctor visits and income. On the other hand, the level of physical stress experienced by parents, employment situation of spouses, and number of times parents brushed their teeth were noted as having a strong correlation with doctor visits.
Conclusions: Based on the results of this paper, it can be determined that, firstly, the demand for doctor visits by children in Japan is minimally influenced by household income. This implies that medical benefits for children are likely at a sufficient level in Japan. Secondly, non-economic factors of households can be strongly linked to the demand for doctor visits by children, and not necessarily to economic factors. In the field of sociology, it is the general view that social class is inherited not only through household income, but through household culture as well. Thus, it can be said that the same is true in the case of health.
Keywords: ealth inequality, health policy, health capital
JEL Classification: I12, I21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation