Johnson, Kiersten and Sarah E.K. Bradley. 2008. Trends in Economic Differentials in Population and Health Outcomes: Further Analysis of the 2006 Nepal Demographic and Health Survey. DHS Further Analysis Reports No. 53. Calverton, Maryland, USA: Macro International
Poverty and a generalized lack of economic opportunity in rural Nepal are believed to have served as both the spark and the fuel for the Maoist insurgency, which began in 1996. Political instability at the national level also contributed to the conflict: between 1990 and 2006, there were fifteen changes in government leadership. Despite this context of uncertainty, the economy grew from $3.6 billion to over $8 billion in current US dollars between 1990-2006. Additionally, remittances from migrant workers almost quadrupled between 1995-96 and 2003-04, increasing from $203 million to $794 million. At a time of violence and instability, this inflow of cash provided critical support to individual households and had a stabilizing effect on the economy as a whole.
However, such improvements at the national level may mask increasing economic inequalities in health and population outcomes. This report takes a closer look at the economic distribution of selected demographic and health outcomes during the period 1996-2006 using data from three Nepal Demographic and Health Surveys. Specifically, we use the DHS Wealth Index to assess changes in distributional equity in key outcomes over time. In addition to providing a descriptive analysis of such trends, we also use multivariate methods to analyze three selected health outcomes, with a particular focus on trends in the role of household economic status as a determinant of improved health outcomes.