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Healthcare Investment and Income Inequality

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jong Shin



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


This paper examines how the relative shares of public and private health expenditures impact income inequality. We study a two period overlapping generations growth model in which longevity is determined by both private and public health expenditure and human capital is the engine of growth. Increased investment in health, reduces mortality, raises return to education and affects income inequality. In such a framework we show that the cross-section earnings inequality is non-decreasing in the private share of health expenditure. We test this prediction empirically using a variable that proxies for the relative intensity of investments (private versus public) using vaccination data from theNational Sample Survey Organization for 76 regions in India in the year 1986-87. We link this with region-specific expenditure inequality data for the period 1987-2012. Our empirical Findings, though focused on a specific health investment (vaccines), suggest that an increase in the share of the privately provided healthcare results in higher inequality.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bhattacharjee A, Shin JK, Subramanian C, Swaminathan S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Health Economics

Year: 2017

Volume: 56

Pages: 163-177

Print publication date: 01/12/2017

Online publication date: 07/10/2017

Acceptance date: 31/08/2017

Date deposited: 09/10/2017

ISSN (print): 0167-6296

ISSN (electronic): 1879-1646

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2017.08.007


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