Relative Mortality Improvements as a Marker of Socioeconomic Inequality across the Developing World, 1990-2009

Deepankar Basu, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Using cross country regression analysis, this paper constructs a novel distance-to-frontier type metric for ranking countries by relative improvements in mortality. The method proposed in this paper connects to and extends a large demographic literature on “routes to low mortality” (Caldwell, 1986; Kuhn, 2010). The metric developed in this paper can also be used for tracking socio-economic inequality broadly defined (to include access of the poor to health infrastructure) over time for individual countries. Given the unavailability of reliable and consistent direct measures of inequality for most poor countries, especially related to non-income aspects of living standards, the metric developed in this paper can be used as an alternative indirect measure that is intuitive and easy to compute.

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Presented in Session 152: Demographic Perspectives on Inequality