This thesis studies the effect of information and cultural barriers on the demand for health are in both developed and developing countries. Chapter 1 exploits the randomized research design of PROGRESA, a conditional cash transfer programme implemented in rural Mexico, to study whether health interventions an have indirect effects on the propensity to screen for gender specific diseases. We show that among women not entitled to a cash transfer there is a higher likelihood of being screened for cervical cancer as result of greater social acceptance of the test and increased awareness of potential risk factors.
Chapter 2 discusses whether attendance at health and nutrition sessions as one of the requirements for receiving a transfer, affects the health behaviour of eligible adults. Using data from the randomized design of the PAL nutritional programme, implemented in rural Mexico, we show that there is a lower propensity among women for a large waist circumference, which is driven by reduced calorie intake based on better nutrition knowledge.
Chapter 3 examines whether the quality of primary care affects the uptake of mammography and colonoscopy among individuals aged 50 plus, in eight European countries. We find that better quality general practitioner care significantly increases the propensity to undergo screening.
Finally, Chapter 4 looks at whether the costs involved in acquiring health information are an important determinant of the decision to buy supplementary private health insurance and whether this explains in part the large cross country variation in supplementary private health insurance coverage across European countries. We find evidence that both education and proxies for cognitive ability acts as substitutes for quality of health promotion in the propensity to sign a supplementary private insurance.