Health, nutrition and economic development

by John Strauss, Duncan Thomas

Purchase

Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price
Add to Cart Paperback52 pages Free

The relationship between health and economic development is explored, focusing on nutrition-based health indicators. The spotlight is placed on the interrelated feedbacks between the influence of health on productivity, on one hand, and the influence of income on health status, on the other. Disentangling causality in these relationships has preoccupied much of the literature; the authors evaluate different empirical strategies that have been adopted and assess the results. There is now a body of evidence based on careful empirical studies that demonstrates a causal relationship between health and labor productivity; there is also evidence that, at least among the very poor, additional income is spent on improved nutrition. There are two issues that have received little attention although, the authors argue, they are likely to be very important. First, measurement of health is discussed in detail. Evidence is presented on how taking into account differences in the extent of measurement error is critical for interpreting the impact of health on wages. The same theme emerges in studies of the effect of income on health (specifically calorie intake). The key role of non-linearities in these relationships is highlighted and the authors demonstrate that a good deal of the variation in estimates of income elasticities of demand for calories can be ascribed to the role of measurement and functional form.

Originally published in: Journal of Economic Literature, v. 36, June 1998, pp. 766-817.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Reprint series. The Reprint was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/research-integrity.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.