Measuring Health Inequality with Realization of Potential Life Year (RePLY)
This paper proposes a new method to measure health inequalities that are caused by conditions amenable to policy intervention. The method is built on a technique that can separate avoidable and unavoidable mortality risks, using world mortality data compiled by the World Health Organization for the year 2000. The new method is applied to data from 191 countries. It is found that controlling for unavoidable mortality risks leads to a lower estimate of health inequality than otherwise, especially for developed countries. Furthermore, although countries with a higher life expectancy at birth tend to have lower health inequality, there are significant variations in health inequalities across countries with the same life expectancy. The results therefore support the WHO's plea for using health inequality as a distinct parameter from the average level of health in assessing the performance of health systems.