Poverty and health: evidence of inequalities in access to health services in a rural community of Kerala, India

Gisele Contreras, Université de Montréal
Slim Haddad, Université de Montréal
Marta Feletto, Université de Montréal
Katia Mohindra, Université de Montréal
Delampary Narayana, Centre for Development Studies

This paper examines how poverty acts as a constraint to achieving and maintaining good health for households. Specifically, we are interested in investigating the relationship between poverty and inequality in accessibility to health services and households’ capacity to seek treatment when faced with illness, as well as examining whether these financial constraints generate further inequalities within the household by creating age discrimination in the intra-household allocation of resources for health between different age groups. Using panel data on 543 households in the rural community of Kerala (India),we examined annual consumption of outpatient visits and households’ expenditures on health goods and services. The results provide convincing evidence on inequalities in consumption of outpatient visits and health expenditures across socioeconomic groups. Poorer households consume fewer outpatient visits, especially for the purpose of health maintenance and preventive purposes. Furthermore, poorer households spend only a fraction of what richer households spend on health services.

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Presented in Session 87: Poverty and health in the life cycle