Health economics

Michael Haylock, Patrick Kampkötter, Mario Macis, Robert Slonim, Daniel Wiesen, 02 July 2022

For patients suffering from leukaemia or other blood diseases, a hematopoietic stem cell transplant from a matching, unrelated donor offers the best chance of survival. But unlike other medical donations, a stem-cell donation is a multi-stage process that can take years to complete, and many donors fail to follow through on their initial commitment. This column investigates the impact of a German stem-cell donor registry initiative, and finds that an invitation to the initiative itself increased donors’ future availability, while participation had a direct and positive effect on donor readiness.

Sandra Aguilar-Gomez, Holt Dwyer, Joshua Graff Zivin, Matthew Neidell, 30 June 2022

A significant body of evidence has established the effects of air pollution on diagnosable health outcomes, ranging from breathing problems and low birth weights to hospitalisations and deaths. But the burden of disease is not the only economic cost arising from poor air quality. This column discusses an emerging body of work that suggests air pollution may have significant effects on day-to-day functioning, economic output, and individual wellbeing in cities around the world, even for people with none of the observable health problems typically attributed to pollution exposure.

Petter Lundborg, Stefan James, Bo Lagerqvist, Johan Vikström, 10 June 2022

Learning-by-doing is believed to be a major source of economic growth, human capital, and comparative advantage, but documenting learning curves has proven difficult since workers are usually not randomly assigned to tasks. This column explores learning-by-doing among Swedish cardiologists, who were quasi-randomly assigned to heart attack patients during night-time shifts. The results provide rare evidence on the existence of prolonged learning curves in a high-skilled task and support the notion that learning-by-doing can be a powerful engine for productivity growth. 

Rainer Kotschy, David Bloom, 25 May 2022

Declining fertility rates and longer life expectancies are producing an ageing global population. This column investigates the challenges that rapidly ageing societies pose to systems of long-term care. To avoid shortages in the workforce, the long-term care industry should endeavour to improve working conditions while also recruiting workers from a larger pool. Investing in disability prevention and rehabilitation are also promising avenues to absorb pressure from growing long-term care needs.

Mevlude Akbulut-Yuksel, 10 May 2022

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has forced millions of Ukrainian children to leave their schools and homes. Such adverse shocks early in life can have profound long-term effects. This column presents evidence from WWII and the Vietnam War of how childhood war exposure had detrimental effects on education, physical and mental health, and labour market outcomes, even decades after the conflicts. The effects were most pronounced for girls and children of lower socioeconomic status. Policies that prioritise children are essential to reduce the enduring effects of war.

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