Radim Bohacek, Jesus Bueren, Laura Crespo, Pedro Mira, Josep Pijoan-Mas, 06 December 2018

Comparing cross-country similarities and differences can be useful to understand the origins of health inequality, but is hampered by a lack of harmonised and comparable data. This column brings together panel data from ten countries in continental Europe, England, and the US to compare inequalities in total life expectancy, disability-free life expectancy, and years spent in disability across education levels and gender. Among the findings are that ‘women get sicker but men die quicker’ is to a large extent a low-education phenomenon.

David Bloom, Paige Kirby, JP Sevilla, Andrew Stawasz, 03 December 2018

Worldwide ageing trends are steering global demographics into uncharted territory, transforming populations and societies around the globe. Japan is leading the way in this growth wave as the world’s oldest population and is now grappling with the substantial socioeconomic burdens an ageing population places on society. This column discusses the coming challenges associated with population ageing alongside plausible solutions. While there is no magic bullet for these challenges, there is scope to devise a multi-pronged solutions portfolio of complementary initiatives that includes a number of measures to promote and protect elderly health.  

Leandro de la Escosura, 02 June 2018

Rising trends in GDP per capita are often interpreted as reflecting rising levels of general wellbeing. But GDP per capita is at best a crude proxy for wellbeing, neglecting important qualitative dimensions. This column explores the long-term trends in global wellbeing inequality using a new dataset. Inequality indices reflecting various aspects of wellbeing are shown to have been declining since WWI, unlike real GDP per capita inequality. 

Thorvaldur Gylfason, 17 November 2013

Based on statistical measures of different degrees of democracy vs. autocracy, this article briefly reviews the progress of democracy around the world during the past 212 years, and places democratic developments in Africa since 1960 in that context. Democracy is positively associated with education, which in turn is associated with lower fertility and greater longevity. Democracy is also associated with reduced corruption. Together, these effects suggest democracy should be good for growth – a hypothesis that is borne out by the data.

Josep Pijoan-Mas, Víctor Ríos-Rull, 29 September 2012

What explains differences in life expectancy at age 50? This column looks at the effect of wealth, education, and marital status. It finds that by far the most important factor is education, and explores what this might mean for policy.

Uwe Sunde, Matteo Cervellati, 06 January 2012

Does rising life expectancy boost economic growth? Existing evidence is mixed, with the relationship appearing to change over time. This column presents recent research showing that living longer may have a negative effect on growth to begin with, but once fertility declines the effect becomes significantly positive. Moreover, higher life expectancy increases the probability of such a switch in fertility behaviour.

Liam Delaney, James P Smith, Mark McGovern, 22 October 2011

Public-health interventions in Ireland during the 1940s were successful in dramatically reducing infant mortality. This column argues that in addition to any immediate benefits, they also had long-run effects by improving the health of the adults who were affected as children, especially those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Ryan Edwards, 09 July 2010

In the least 30 years, the difference in life expectancy at birth across the globe has fallen dramatically. This column presents new data on life expectancy within and between countries for the period 1970 to 2000. Controlling for infant mortality, it finds that while within-country inequality in life expectancy fell, between-country inequality rose, leaving total inequality unchanged.

Frank Lichtenberg, 27 June 2009

Many healthcare policymakers and analysts are focused on controlling rising medical costs. Is attacking high-cost, low-benefit medical innovation a solution? This column estimates that medical innovation – the use of advanced diagnostic imaging, newer drugs, and higher-ranked physicians – significantly increases life expectancy without raising medical expenditures per capita.

Moshe Hazan, 27 September 2008

The World Health Organisation recently argued that improving the longevity of the poor is not only an end in itself but also a means to achieving economic development. This column presents contrary evidence from the history of the US.

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