Accepted paper:

Healthy digital dividends in Indonesia


Gindo Tampubolon (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

Health seeking behaviour in developing countries is marked by information scarcity. Thus we study smartphone use in 688592 Indonesian adults using control function estimator. While the poor had less access, smartphone users had significantly higher access to health care, so enhancing health equity.

Paper long abstract:

Health seeking behaviour in developing countries is marked by information scarcity, from knowledge about personal health condition to information about health facility. Smartphones as a quintessential information device should make a difference yet nationwide evidence is thin. We study personal use of smartphones to seek information (compared with to achieve other purposes or with no use at all) and its effects on visits to inpatient and outpatient health facilities in 688,592 Indonesian aged 15 and over. We applied control function estimator for nonlinear outcomes since visits are binary and smartphone use is endogeneous. Identification is achieved using variations in smartphone diffusion rates in their residences five year in their past, following recent practices of using historical information as exogeneous variations. The analysis revealed that while those in poverty had 13% (p < 0.001) lower probabilities of visiting health care facilities, those who used smartphones to seek information had significantly higher probabilities of visiting outpatient (1.5%, p = 0.02) and inpatient (9%, p < 0.001) facilities, thus enhancing equity in health care. Given the persistent digital divide we recently reported in Indonesia, the digital dividends uncovered here call for a concerted policy from telecommunication to health sectors to bridge the divide in order no to deny the majority from reaping the healthy digital dividends.

panel D01
Digital inequalities and development (Paper)