Volume 24 - Article 2 | Pages 45-78

Out of Sync? Demographic and other social science research on health conditions in developing countries

By Jere Behrman, Julia Behrman, Nykia M. Perez

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Date received:24 Jan 2009
Date published:18 Jan 2011
Word count:5054
Keywords:developing countries, disability-adjusted life year (DALY), health, HIV/AIDS, injuries, noncommunicable diseases, research priorities


In this paper, we present a framework for considering whether the marginal social benefits of demographic and social science research on various health conditions in developing countries are likely to be relatively high. Based on this framework, we argue that the relative current and future predicted prevalence of burdens of different health/disease conditions, as measured by disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), provide a fairly accurate reflection of some important factors related to the relative marginal social benefits of demographic and social science research on different health conditions. World Health Organization (WHO) DALYs projections for 2005-30 are compared with (a) demographic and other social science studies on health in developing countries during 1990-2005, and (b) presentations made at the Population Association of America annual meetings during the same time period. These comparisons suggest that recent demographic and social science research on health in developing countries has focused too much on HIV/AIDS, and too little on non-communicable diseases.

Author's Affiliation

Jere Behrman - University of Pennsylvania, United States of America [Email]
Julia Behrman - New York University, United States of America [Email]
Nykia M. Perez - University of Pennsylvania, United States of America [Email]

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