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Mobile Money Use and Healthcare Utilization: Evidence from Rural Uganda

Hiroyuki Egami () and Tomoya Matsumoto ()
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Hiroyuki Egami: Graduate School of Policy Studies, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Tokyo 106-0032, Japan

Sustainability, 2020, vol. 12, issue 9, 1-34

Abstract: Lack of cash on hand is a significant obstacle in accessing healthcare services in developing countries. Many expectant mothers in the least developed countries do not receive sufficient care during pregnancy due to financial constraints. If such hurdles in accessing healthcare can be overcome, it will contribute to reduction in maternal and newborn mortality, which is a key target of Sustainable Development Goal 3. This study reports the first assessment of the impact of mobile money services on maternal care utilization. We hypothesize that mobile money adoption would motivate rural Ugandan women to receive antenatal care and to deliver their children at health facilities or with skilled birth attendants. By receiving remittances utilizing mobile money, poor rural households may obtain more cash in hand, which might change women’s health-seeking behavior. We apply community- and mother-fixed effects models with heterogeneity analysis to longitudinal panel data (the RePEAT [Research on Poverty, Environment, and Agricultural Technology] survey) of three waves (2009, 2012, and 2015). The analysis uses pregnancy reports of 2007–2015 from 586 rural Ugandan households. We find suggestive evidence that mobile money adoption positively affects the take-up of antenatal care. Heterogeneity analysis indicates that mobile money brings a larger benefit to geographically challenged households by easing their liquidity constraint as they face higher cost of traveling to distant health facilities. The models failed to reject the null hypothesis of no mobile money effect on the delivery-related outcome variables. This study suggests that promoting financial inclusion by means of mobile money motivates women in rural and remote areas to make antenatal care visits while the evidence of such effect is not found for take-up of facility delivery or delivery with skilled birth attendants.

Keywords: financial inclusion; mobile money; maternal care; healthcare utilization (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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