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Measuring wealth-based health inequality among Indian children: the importance of equity vs efficiency
Authors: P Arokiasamy and J Pradhan
Source: Health Policy and Planning, 2010;1–12; doi:10.1093/heapol/czq075
Topic(s): Child health
Inequality
Country: Asia
  India
Published: 2010
Abstract: The concentration index is the most commonly used measure of socioeconomic- related health inequality. However, a critical constraint has been that it is just a measure of inequality. Equity is an important goal of health policy but the average level of health also matters. In this paper, we explore evidence of both these crucial dimensions—equity (inequality) and efficiency (average health)—in child health indicators by adopting the recently developed measure of the extended concentration index on the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) data from India. An increasing degree of inequality aversion is used to measure health inequalities as well as achievement in the following child health indicators: under-2 child mortality, full immunization coverage, and prevalence of underweight, wasting and stunting among children. State-wise adjusted under-2 child mortality scores reveal an increasing trend with increasing values of inequality aversion, implying that under-2 child deaths have been significantly concentrated among the poor households. The level of adjusted under-2 child mortality scores increases significantly with the increasing value of aversion even in states advanced in the health transition, such as Kerala and Goa. The higher values of adjusted scores for lower values of aversion for child immunization coverage are evidence that richer households benefited most from the rise in full immunization coverage. However, the lack of radical changes in the adjusted scores for underweight among children with increasing degrees of aversion implies that household economic status was not the only determinant of poor nutritional status in India.