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The Australian National University

Health Expenditure, Income and Health Status Among Indigenous and Other Australians

Research Monograph 21 / 2004


Using data from the 1995 National Health Survey (NHS) this study asks the question—what is the relationship between income, health expenditure and health status for the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in Australia? Income is generally seen as an indicator of ability to address the need for health expenditure, and as a factor in influencing health status. The expectation, therefore, is that income and health status are positively related.

The analysis measures differences in health expenditure and reported health status between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, holding income level constant. No association is found between income and Indigenous health status. A number of explanations are canvassed. The finding may simply reflect poor data quality, both in terms of income and self-assessed health status. An alternative hypothesis, with long-term implications, is that adult mortality reflects foetal and childhood health, regardless of current income status.

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