Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Health and Mortality in Developing Countries

Health And Economic Growth

Xavi Sala i Martin concudes in his paper on growth research - "15 Years of Growth Economics: What Have we Learnt?" - had the following to say on growth and health:

"The relation between most measures of human capital and economic growth is weak. Some measures of health, however, (such as life expectancy) are robustly correlated with growth"
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Adult Health and Mortality in Developing Countries

It is now reasonably well known that there is a steady global trend to increased longevtity. Nonetheless there are a disturbing number of case where life expectancy is falling not rising. This situation was highlighted in the 2005 Un human development report, and lead me to deploy Lant Pritchett's old expression 'Divergence Bigtime'.

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AIDS in South Africa

The New York Times had an article last week about the alarming way mortality rates in South Africa have been rising in recent years. As can be seen from the graphic death rates for adults of virtually all ages and both sexes rose sharply from 1997 to 2004, among some groups by a factor of four or more.

Now as the NYT point out AIDS is not reported as a cause of death in South Africa. But the age patterns of the increased deaths and their reported causes — in many cases parasitic infections, immune disorders and maternal conditions — make it likely that AIDS and ailments related to H.I.V. were behind much of the trend. The report from the SA statistical office on which this information is based seems to leave little doubt that South Africa, with the largest number of H.I.V.-positive citizens of any nation, faces an AIDS problem on a huge scale. Among other significant details which have become apparent the death rate among women in the 30-34 age range was 4.6 times higher in 2004 than in it was 1997 (leaping in the process) to nearly 23 per 1,000, while the death rate among men in the 40-44 age group more than doubled, to nearly 28 per 1,000.
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