Life Expectancy and Welfare in Latin America and the Caribbean
This paper analyses the recent evolution of life expectancy in Latin American and Caribbean countries, and evaluates how much it has contributed to the overall improvements in welfare. We argue that increases in life expectancy between 1960 and 2000, which were largely independent of income, represented gains in welfare comparable to the ones derived from income growth. For countries in the region, estimates of welfare improvements accounting for health increase the numbers obtained from income alone by 40% on average. The available evidence suggests that improvements in public health infrastructure – such as provision of treated water and sewerage services – and large-scale immunization programs may have been the key factors behind the mortality reductions observed in the period.