Household Social Capital and Health Care Utilization and Expenditures in India: Does Caste Make a Difference?

Zhiyong Lin , University of Maryland
Sonalde B. Desai, India Human Development Survey
Feinian Chen, University of Maryland

Although social capital has become a well-established social determinant of health, the extant literature is limited about how different categories of the population (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity) are differently affected by social capital. This study tries to get a comprehensive understanding of caste inequalities in the household social capital in India and further examines how they are associated with the health care utilization and expenditures. Our analysis of data from the India Human Development Survey (2011-12) shows that household social capital (measured as social connections to formal sectors) is not equally distributed across caste groups. Our further multivariate analysis finds that upper castes have the largest social connections to formal sectors, and they are associated with lower health care expenditures. For some lower castes, although they have much less social capital compared with upper castes, their social capital is closely associated with better access to both public and private healthcare facilities.

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 Presented in Session 11. Health & Mortality 2