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The economic analysis of inequalities in health

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  • Muurinen, Jaana-Marja
  • Le Grand, Julian
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    Abstract

    The paper explains the economist's concept of human capital, and uses it to analyse some of the problems raised in the Black Report on inequalities in health. Individuals are assumed to have an optimal 'stock' of health, defined as the level of stock for which the marginal benefits of further investment in the stock falls below its marginal cost. Differences in marginal benefits and costs between individuals will thus lead to differences in their health stocks. Use of this simple model and its associated concepts can be used to help explain, for instance, why social class differences in mortality are steepest in early adulthood and shallowest in the decade before retirement or why manual workers who 'need' more health than non-manual workers are nonetheless in general less healthy. The model can also contribute to the discussion of normative issues, for instance, to refine the concept of equality of access. However, while it has great potential in organising and analysing hypotheses concerning health behaviour, the model is in no way a substitute for other approaches; indeed it only becomes meaningful when interpreted in sociological, epidemiological and medical terms.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 20 (1985)
    Issue (Month): 10 (January)
    Pages: 1029-1035

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:20:y:1985:i:10:p:1029-1035

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    Cited by:
    1. Eugene Choo & Michael Denny, 2006. "Wearing Out -- The Decline in Health," Working Papers tecipa-258, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    2. Dewar, Diane M., 1998. "Do those with more formal education have better health insurance opportunities?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 267-277, June.
    3. Gisela Hostenkamp & Michael Stolpe, 2008. "The Social Costs of Health-related Early Retirement in Germany: Evidence from the German Socio-economic Panel," Kiel Working Papers 1415, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
    4. Cutler, David & Lleras-Muney, Adriana & Deaton, Angus, 2006. "The Determinants of Mortality," Scholarly Articles 2640588, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    5. Thierry Debrand & Pascale Lengagne, 2007. "Organisation du travail et sante des seniors en Europe," Working Papers DT3, IRDES institut for research and information in health economics, revised Feb 2007.
    6. Titus Galama & Arie Kapteyn & Raquel Fonseca & Pierre-Carl Michaud, 2008. "Grossman's Health Threshold and Retirement," Working Papers 658, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
    7. Ismail Sirageldin & Francois Diop, 1991. "Equity and Efficiency in Health Status and Health Services Utilization: A Household Perspective," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 30(4), pages 415-437.
    8. Riviere-Cinnamond, Ana, 2005. "Animal Health Policy and Practice: Scaling-up Community-based Animal Health Systems, Lessons from Human Health," PPLPI Working Papers 23775, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Initiative.
    9. Anne C. Case & Angus Deaton, 2003. "Broken Down by Work and Sex: How Our Health Declines," NBER Working Papers 9821, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Titus J. Galama & Hans van Kippersluis, 2010. "A Theory of Socioeconomic Disparities in Health over the Life Cycle," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-079/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    11. Caroli, Eve & Bassanini, Andrea, 2014. "Is work bad for health? The role of constraint vs choice," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/12483, Paris Dauphine University.
    12. Titus J. Galama & Arie Kapteyn, 2009. "Grossman's Missing Health Threshold," Working Papers 684, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
    13. Gisela Hostenkamp & Michael Stolpe, 2006. "The Health Gradient and Early Retirement: Evidence from the German Socio-economic Panel," Kiel Working Papers 1305, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

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