Impacts and Determinants of Health Levels in Low-Income Countries
Improved health in low-income countries could considerably improve wellbeing and possibly promote economic growth. The last decade has seen a surge in field experiments designed to understand the barriers that households and governments face in investing in health and how these barriers can be overcome, and to assess the impacts of subsequent health gains. This chapter first discusses the methodological pitfalls that field experiments in the health sector are particularly susceptible to, then reviews the evidence that rigorous field experiments have generated so far. While the link from in utero and child health to later outcomes has increasingly been established, few experiments have estimated the impacts of health on contemporaneous productivity among adults, and few experiments have explored the potential for infrastructural programs to impact health outcomes. Many more studies have examined the determinants of individual health behavior, on the side of consumers as well as among providers of health products and services.
We thank Abhijit Banerjee, Thomas Chupein, Esther Duflo, Rachel Glennerster, Ariella Park and Rebecca Toole for comments. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.