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New Way of Measuring Economic Inequality & Health Outcome

by on June 24, 2013

Guest post by Hiwot Belay, MEASURE Evaluation M&E/Health Management Information Systems Adviser

Nicole Johns of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation gave a presentation on measuring economic inequality and health outcome at the GHME 2013 Conference in Seattle. The presentation focused on the ongoing work in developing new asset-based wealth indices for use as covariates when analyzing health surveys. This emanated from the limitation that the existing method can only be used to compare households within one survey at a time.

The new estimation method involves creating an asset-based inequality index within surveys, making it comparable across countries and over time by identifying common household assets that can anchor the translation between countries. It can also convert to international dollars and compute inequality measure by creating a new Gini coefficient.

Among other things, this information will be used to measure the relationship between economic inequality and health outcome. The presenter illustrated the new Gini coefficient used as a predictor of health outcome. Using the time series, she showed the average probability of succeeding to meet Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 with one standard deviation reduction in inequality. The work highlighted reducing inequality doubles the probability of achieving the maternal mortality goal.

Many participants of the GHME commended the work in progress – Richard Horton of Lancet said this is opening an exciting avenue to accelerate Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 and helps in making decisions about the post-2015 agenda.

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