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Correlation between human rights promotion and health protection: a cross country analysis

Sedef Akgungor (Department of Economics, Faculty of Business, Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir, Turkey)
Kamiar Alaei (St Antony College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK) (Dornsife School of Public Health, Office of Global Health, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA) (Institute for International Health and Education, Albany, New York, USA)
Weng-Fong Chao (School of Criminology and Criminal Justica, University of Nebraska, Omaha, Nebraska, USA)
Alexandra Harrington (Albany Law School, Albany, New York, USA)
Arash Alaei (Institute for International Health and Education (IIHEUS), Albany, New York, USA) (Senior Consultant at National Aids Program, Republic of Tajikistan Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Population, Dushanbe, Tajikistan)

International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare

ISSN: 2056-4902

Article publication date: 31 July 2019

Issue publication date: 10 February 2020



The purpose of this paper is to explore the correlation among health outcomes, and civil and political rights (CPR) and also economic, social and cultural rights.


The study uses cross-sectional data from 161 countries. The authors use health outcomes and human rights variables in the model. In order to combine dimensions of human rights, this paper uses factor analysis and obtains proxy variables that measure economic, social and cultural rights and CPR. The two proxy variables are used as independent variables to explain variations in health in a regression model. The paper then classifies countries by cluster analysis and explores the patterns of different components of human rights and health outcomes across country clusters.


The regression model demonstrates that the economic, social and cultural rights variables explain variations in all health outcomes. The relationship between CPR and health is weaker than that of the economic, social and cultural rights. Cluster analysis further reveals that despite the country’s commitment to CPR, those that highly respect economic, social and cultural rights lead to superior health outcomes. The more respect a country has for economic, social and cultural rights, the better the health outcomes for the citizens of that country.

Practical implications

National policies should consider equal emphasis on all dimensions of human rights for further improvements in health.


The sole promotion of CPR such as democracy and empowerment, absence of adequate support of economic, social and cultural rights such as rights to housing, education, food and work can only contribute partially to health.



Akgungor, S., Alaei, K., Chao, W.-F., Harrington, A. and Alaei, A. (2020), "Correlation between human rights promotion and health protection: a cross country analysis", International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 72-92.



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