The Impact of Health Policy and Economic Growth on Individuals in Developing Countries
- Author(s): Aiyar, Anaka
- Advisor(s): Deolalikar, Anil
- et al.
Child health is a major concern in developing countries. Annually six million children die before their fifth birthday. Eighty percent of the deaths happen in Sub Saharan Africa and Asia and forty five percent of these deaths are caused by under-nutrition. For those children who survive, thirty three percent are stunted over their life time. In this dissertation I identify two mechanisms through which we can deal with the problem. One is the role of health policy and the other is the role of economic growth. In the case of the former, we are now aware from extant literature in economics that investments in health and education resources for children under the age of six will positively impact their long run health and productivity outcomes. In chapter two and three of the dissertation, I evaluate the benefits and the unintended consequences of providing government subsidized health insurance policy to children under the age of six in Vietnam. I find that parents are more likely to take children who are covered by health insurance to doctors and spend more on their health. However, this comes at the cost of human capital investments such as health and education spending for older children in the household who are not eligible for the policy. Women, who are primary care givers in the house, allocate more time in the labor market once their children are covered by insurance. This increases both spending on food and health within the household. Chapter four models the relationship between economic growth and child health, as measured by height for age z (HAZ) scores. With the help of new methodological and conceptual tools, this paper shows that economic growth provides a cushion against the rapid loss of HAZ in the first two years of a child's life. The paper also shows that economic growth in the birth year of a child has cumulative positive effects on HAZ when they are between the ages of one to three. At age four, economic growth in the more recent period and the current disease environment may play a bigger role in determining child health.