Low-income countries are plagued by a high burden of preventable and curable disease as well as unmet need for healthcare, but detailed microeconomic evidence on the relationship between supply-side factors and service use is limited. Causality has rarely been assessed due to the challenges posed by the endogeneity of health service supply. In this study, using data from Mozambique, we investigate the effect of healthcare service availability, measured as the type of health facilities and their level of staffing and equipment, on the individual decision to seek care. We apply an instrumental variable approach to test for causality in the effect of staff and equipment availability on the decision to seek care and we explore heterogeneous effects based on the distance of households to the closest health facility. We find that living in the proximity of a health facility increases the probability of seeking care. A greater availability of referral health services in the locality has no significant effect on decision to seek care, while greater availability of staff and equipment increases the probability of seeking care when ill. Demand side barriers to health care use exist, but have a smaller impact when health care services are available within one hour walking distance.
Health seeking behaviour Demand for health care Health care availability Reverse causality Instrumental variables Mozambique