wider_0206 - World Institute for Development Economics...

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World Institute for Development Economics Research United Nations University L ehtikuva / Reuters /Supri 2002 IMAP WIDER recently launched its research on health with an international conference entitled Advancing Health Equity, held on 29–30 September 2006. Health is increasingly recognized as an important indicator of a country’s standard of living as well as a measure of the wellbeing of its citizens. Substantial and widespread improvement in health outcomes has taken place during the past century, yet this progress has been highly uneven both within and across countries. This has resulted in health outcomes in many countries falling far short of commonly accepted levels. For instance, in sub-Saharan Africa signi±cant numbers of children now face more risk of dying than those ten years ago. Though these are important issues very little has been done to understand the root causes of the widening gap in health outcomes and even less has been done to address them through appropriate policies. The conference, attended by over 100 experts, focused on issues of health inequality and deprivation, speci±cally in the context of developing countries. Papers presented at the conference examined the causes and consequences of this inequality, analyzed the patterns and trends in the outcomes, and evaluated policies with a particular focus on public health programmes. Papers presented at the conference and other details: www.wider.unu.edu WIDER Conference Advancing Health Equity 2006 WIDER Annual Lecture Global Patterns of Income and Health by Angus Deaton Inequalities in income and inequalities in health G lobal inequality takes many dimensions. Not only is there great inequality across the peoples of the world in material standards of living, but there are also dramatic inequalities in health. The inhabitants of poor countries not only have lower real incomes, but they are also more often sick, and they live shorter lives. These international correlations between income and health should affect the way that we think about the level and distribution of global wellbeing. They also need to be understood if we are to be effective in reducing global poverty, in incomes, or in health. Wellbeing should never be thought of only in terms of income, or only in terms of health. Health scientists and economists need to come together if we are to fully understand global poverty and inequality and if we are to design policies that will be effective in making the world a better place, particularly for its most deprived inhabitants. Income, life expectancy, and global wellbeing In a justly celebrated paper, Samuel Preston drew a graph of life expectancy against national income, showing that, in the poorest countries, small changes in average income were associated with large improvements in life-expectancy, while among the rich countries, the protective effects of income, although still present, were less pronounced. Figure 1 shows the relationship for
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wider_0206 - World Institute for Development Economics...

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