This paper examines the impact of workdays off due to illness on the financial status and livelihoods of poor slum dwellers in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Data on illness and socioeconomic status were collected in a panel survey with monthly rounds. We contacted over 12,000 individuals during a 12-month period and 2,682 adults had taken workdays off due to illness. Households reporting illness in adults had lower income and expenditures than the remainder. They were less likely to have loans and less likely to be members of credit organisations. Where adults had taken time off work due to illness, households reported a deficit in their financial situation, reduced their expenditure, took out loans or mortgages, changed their work or begged. Particular households may be vulnerable to adult ill health. When ill health prevents an adult earner from working, the household financial situation deteriorates, and strategies are used to offset the effect. It is likely that adult illness is a major contributor to chronic poverty.
Work disabling illness, and coping strategies in Dhaka slums, Bangladesh, presented at Staying Poor: Chronic Poverty and Development Policy, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, 7-9 April 2003. Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK, 33 pp.