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Relative Mortality Improvements as a Marker of Socio-Economic Inequality across the Developing World, 1990 - 2009

Using cross country regressions, this paper constructs a novel distance-to-frontier metric for tracking broad socio-economic inequality (including access of the poor to health infrastructure) over time for individual countries. Given the unavailability of reliable and consistent direct measures of inequality for most poor countries, especially related to nonincome aspects of living standards, the metric developed in this paper can be used as an alternative indirect measure that is intuitive and easy to compute. To highlight its potential use, the metric is used to rank countries in terms of improvements in socio-economic inequality for the period since 1990. Notable examples of poor performance are displayed by China, Thailand, Kenya and India.

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