PROJECT 2: The Meaning of Health in Social Surveys Little is known about the health of adults in low income settings. Household surveys are more representative than clinical studies (which typically involve small, selected samples), but survey methods for measuring health in developing countries are not well-developed. Moreover, it is not clear how the indicators most often collected should be interpreted. To fill this gap, we compare a battery of indicators that we are collecting in a panel survey of Indonesia. First, we examine the relationships among a rich array of health indicators, paying special attention to differences between objectively measured health indicators (for which measurement error is random) and self-reported indicators (which embody the respondent's perceptions and information about health status). Next, the relationships between socioeconomic status and health are described. Characteristics such as education and income are likely to have a direct impact on health. But, they may also be associated with access to information about health and thus affect self-reports but not objectively measured indicators. The implications for interpreting the relationships are drawn out. Third, we exploit the unique opportunities presented by three quasi-experiments. Between the first two survey rounds, a pilot project increased the price of public health services in some areas but not others. This (exogenous) price heterogeneity is exploited to examine its impact on health outcomes. Second, Indonesia currently faces its worst financial crisis in three decades. By conducting a small resurvey of households in 1998, we will assess the impact of this major economic shock on health and well-being of the poor and of the better off. Third, some of our respondents were exposed to very high levels of smoke from biomass burning in late 1997. The 1998 resurvey provides an unparalleled opportunity to understand the impact of poor air quality on health status. In addition, the results of these analyses will shed light on the meaning and interpretation of the health indicators.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
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Rand Corporation
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