Health economics

Prashant Bharadwaj, Mallesh M. Pai, Agne Suziedelyte, 03 July 2015

Fear of stigmatisation might lead to hiding of behaviours and actions. This column presents evidence that stigma concerns can play a role in health seeking behaviour in the case of mental health. In particular, survey respondents under-report mental health conditions 36% of the time when asked about mental health conditions, and about 20% of the time when asked about prescription drug use. Conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are less likely to be under-reported.

Mike Baiocchi, Mark Cullen, Karen Eggleston, Victor Fuchs, Pooja Loftus, 30 May 2015

Socio-economic conditions like wealth and education have been demonstrated to be powerful predictors of life expectancy. Similarly, over the 20th century, a tendency for women to outlive men has emerged in much of the Western world. Using data for countries from all around the world, this column shows how socio-economic factors mediate the sex differential in the probability of survival to advanced age. These patterns seem to transcend temporal and cultural barriers, but rather emerge and evolve as countries develop, and standards of living rise.

Seema Jayachandran, Rohini Pande, 05 May 2015

Indian children are more likely to be malnourished than their counterparts in Sub-Saharan Africa, despite higher standards of living. This column uses data on child height – an anthropometric measure of net nutrition – from Africa and India to explore how parental gender preferences affect the likelihood of children being malnourished. Indian firstborn sons are found to have a height advantage over African firstborn sons, and the height disadvantage appears first in second-born children, increasing for subsequent births. This suggests that a preference for a healthy male heir influences fertility decisions and how parents allocate resources between their children.

Dora L. Costa, Matthew E. Kahn, 27 April 2015

Newspapers report good and bad news, but the reporting doesn’t always match reality. This column presents evidence from turn-of-the-century America that news reports of typhoid tracked mortality patterns, but the reporting was biased. Spikes in death rates led to bigger jumps in media coverage when death rates were low. This could be due to the idea that deviations from Kahneman and Tversky’s ‘reference points’ are more newsworthy, or due to the possibility that bad news is more valuable to readers when things seem to be going well.

Rena M. Conti, Ernst Berndt, David H. Howard, 25 March 2015

Total US prescription drug spending rose 13% in 2014, the biggest increase in a decade. Driving this trend is spending on branded specialty drugs, which rose an unprecedented 31%. This column discusses recent research into the relationship between inflation-adjusted launch prices and survival benefits and approval year for 58 anticancer drugs approved in the US between 1995 and 2013. The authors find that launch prices are going up by $8,500 per year, approximately 12% year over year.

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