Decomposing world health inequality

J Health Econ. 2003 Mar;22(2):271-93. doi: 10.1016/S0167-6296(02)00123-6.


This study explores global inequality in health status and decomposes it into within- and between-country inequality. We rely on standardized height as our health indicator since it avoids the measurement pitfalls of more traditional measures of health such as morbidity, mortality, and life expectancy. It also avoids measurement problems associated with using monetary variables such as income or expenditure across time or place to compare welfare. Our calculation of world height inequality indicates that, in contrast with similar research on income inequality, within-country variation is the source of most inequality, rather than the differences between countries.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Body Height* / genetics
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Child Welfare* / ethnology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developed Countries / statistics & numerical data
  • Developing Countries / statistics & numerical data
  • Genetic Variation
  • Global Health*
  • Health Status
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical
  • Research Design
  • Socioeconomic Factors*