Health economics

Martina Björkman Nyqvist, Lucia Corno, Damien de Walque, Jakob Svensson, 07 January 2017

Traditional HIV/AIDS education campaigns have not been completely effective in curtailing new infections. One potential reason behind this is that most of the infections occur among individuals who are willing to take risks when it comes to sexual behaviour, and campaigns have failed to specifically target these people. This column describes a new HIV intervention trialled in Lesotho that used a lottery to target such individuals and incentivise safer practices. HIV incidence was reduced by more than a fifth in treatment groups over the trial period. These results, combined with practical and cost advantages, suggest that such interventions could prove invaluable in the fight against HIV.

Andrew Clark, Sarah Fleche, Richard Layard, Nattavudh Powdthavee, George Ward, 12 December 2016

Understanding the key determinants of people’s life satisfaction will suggest policies for how best to reduce misery and promote wellbeing. This column discusses evidence from survey data on Australia, Britain, Germany, and the US which indicate that the things that matter most are people’s social relationships and their mental and physical health; and that the best predictor of an adult’s life satisfaction is their emotional health as a child. The authors call for a new focus for public policy: not ‘wealth creation’ but ‘wellbeing creation’.

Robert French, Philip Oreopoulos, 05 December 2016

Behavioural economics has been playing an increasingly important role in public policy the world over, and Canada is no exception. This column outlines the steps Canada is taking towards incorporating insights from the literature into its policies. It also highlights the emphasis that many agencies in Canada are placing on testing their prospective behavioural interventions through randomised control trials.

Angus Deaton, Nancy Cartwright, 09 November 2016

In recent years, the use of randomised controlled trials has spread from labour market and welfare programme evaluation to other areas of economics, and to other social sciences, perhaps most prominently in development and health economics. This column argues that some of the popularity of such trials rests on misunderstandings about what they are capable of accomplishing, and cautions against simple extrapolations from trials to other contexts.

Mevlude Akbulut-Yuksel, Adriana Kugler, 17 October 2016

Upward social mobility is widely sought but often elusive in highly mobile societies like the US. While previous work has focused on intergenerational transmission of income levels and social prosperity among natives and immigrants, this column studies the intergenerational transmission of health. There is substantial persistence in health status for both natives and immigrants. However, as immigrant families remain in the US for more generations, their children’s health tends to resemble more the health of native children and less the health of their mothers.

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