An analysis of social policy, health and socioeconomic mobility in Mexico : could a conditional cash transfer programme promote mobility?

Gutierrez, Juan Pablo; (2012) An analysis of social policy, health and socioeconomic mobility in Mexico : could a conditional cash transfer programme promote mobility? PhD thesis, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. DOI:

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The overall scope of this thesis is to document the relevance of health capital investments for development, as well as highlighting barriers for the accumulation of health capital in the context of policies and programmes aimed to this. In order to promote development, Mexico decided to focus its social policy on generating incentives for human capital investments. For this approach to work, returns to human capital, part of which is health, have to be positive and sufficiently high. Using data from a national representative survey, I found that returns to health in Mexico are positive and in order of magnitude similar to those reported for other countries, and that social mobility is present, although still there is an important intergenerational transmission of educational attainments. One key assumption for interventions and policies aiming promote development through increasing the accumulation of human capital, and in particular health capital is that increasing access and utilization of health services will translate into health capital. The capacity of health services to generate health is related to its quality. Structural quality is a necessary but not sufficient factor for quality. I present results for primary health services in Mexico, showing that magnitude of heterogeneity on structural quality is large, and that is negatively correlated with locality marginalization. One key element for development is the accumulation of appropriate levels of human capital. Insufficient attention has been paid to factors that may counterbalance investments in human capital. Risk behaviours such as smoking and unprotected sex may reduce both creation of human capital and accumulated stock. Analyzing data from the Mexican CeT programme Oportunidades, I found that this programme may decrease participation in risk behaviours, although among its target population (poor households) they are still highly prevalent. The analysis reported in this thesis makes the case for increasing investments in health capital among the means through which to increase the accumulation of human capital, but at the same time devoting resources to increase the chances of these investments in translating effectively to human capital. That is, increasing quality of health services and promoting healthy behaviours.

Item Type: Thesis
Thesis Type: Doctoral
Thesis Name: PhD
Contributors: Acharya, A (Thesis advisor);
Additional Information:
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy


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