In Asia, Does Higher Social Assistance Spending Mean Better Health? | Asian Development Bank

In Asia, Does Higher Social Assistance Spending Mean Better Health?

Publication | July 2017
In Asia, Does Higher Social Assistance Spending Mean Better Health?

A study in 22 low- and middle-income countries in Asia reveals a strong positive relationship between social protection spending and health outcomes.

Using the latest data on social protection in Asia, this study hopes to explore the potential association of social protection spending and health outcomes in low- and middle-income Asian economies. 

For this study, the authors used three health outcomes which focus on indicators related to maternal and child health. It also used multiple linear regressions to test different models exploring the potential association of social protection spending of countries and health outcomes. In this paper, four models were used to examine the components of social protection spending that are mostly associated to better health outcomes.  

At a macro level, this study intends to shed light on the potential importance of both health and nonhealth-related social protection programs in improving health outcomes. This is with the recognition of the need for further studies in this area as data becomes available in the years to come.
 

Key Points

  • Social protection indicators are significant predictors of health outcomes. Using maternal mortality ratio, child mortality rate, and children-under-5 mortality indicators, the 22-country study reveals a strong positive relationship between social protection spending and health outcomes.
  • Social assistance spending is associated with better child health outcomes in low- and middle-income countries in Asia. Social assistance programs may have more value for the health of the poor and the vulnerable, especially when social insurance systems (or lack thereof) fail to provide effective access value for health services and other risk protection.
  • As social protection programs in Asia are heavily driven by social insurance, integrating social assistance principles in social insurance systems may need to be explored so that social protection programs can have greater value to the health of the poor.
  • Adjusting for women beneficiaries, increase in social protection spending is associated with improvements in child health outcomes.