Health economics

Olivier Sterck, Max Roser, Mthuli Ncube, Stefan Thewissen, 16 February 2018

Large multilateral organisations like WHO and the UN rely heavily on average income data in determining eligibility for, and the allocation of, development assistance for health. This column tests this paradigm by analysing the determinants of health outcomes for 99 countries. A country’s epidemiological surroundings, poverty gap, and institutional capacity appear to be much better predictors of health outcomes than gross national income. These findings suggest alternative metrics that could be leveraged in allocating development assistance for health.

Osea Giuntella, Matthias Rieger, Lorenzo Rotunno, 02 February 2018

The majority of obese adults are now found in developing countries This column presents new evidence on the effects of trade on obesity in Mexico. The results indicate that across Mexican states, a one standard deviation increase in the unhealthy share of food imports from the US increases the likelihood of individuals being obese by about 5 percentage points. As developing countries around the world open up their food markets to industrialised countries, they may be accelerating their ongoing nutrition transition and imposing high future costs on their health systems.

Pierre Dubois, Rachel Griffith, Martin O'Connell, 29 January 2018

A growing number of jurisdictions have adopted taxes on sugary drinks to help combat excessive sugar consumption. This column simulates the introduction of a volumetric tax on sugary soda in Britain to examine how well targeted such taxes are. The simulated tax leads young people to reduce the amount of sugar they purchase via soda by around 80% more than the average consumer, but is less effective at targeting people with a high-sugar diet.

Daniel Barczyk, Matthias Kredler, 28 January 2018

Ageing societies and the increase in female labour force participation are putting pressure on governments to take a more active role in caring for the elderly. Using European and US data, this column investigates the responses of families to long-term care policy. The results suggest that care arrangements are strongly influenced by policy, and highlight the importance of accounting for informal care when evaluating reform proposals.

Laurens Cherchye, Bram De Rock, Rachel Griffith, Martin O'Connell, Kate Smith, Frederic Vermeulen, 22 January 2018

The impact of variation in diet quality across individuals on obesity and diet-related disease has received much attention, but variation in individuals’ diet quality over time less so. This column combines British data on food purchases with a model in which individual choice is driven by the influence of a healthy self and an unhealthy self to examine self-control problems in food choice. The results indicate that self-control problems in food purchases are important, and that the interaction of the mechanisms at play merits investigation.

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