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The Value of Health and Longevity

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  • Kevin M. Murphy
  • Robert H. Topel

Abstract

We develop a framework for valuing improvements in health and apply it to past and prospective reductions in mortality in the United States. We calculate social values of (i) increased longevity over the twentieth century, (ii) progress against various diseases after 1970, and (iii) potential future progress against major diseases. Cumulative gains in life expectancy after 1900 were worth over $1.2 million to the representative American in 2000, whereas post-1970 gains added about $3.2 trillion per year to national wealth, equal to about half of GDP. Potential gains from future health improvements are also large; for example, a 1 percent reduction in cancer mortality would be worth $500 billion.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 114 (2006)
Issue (Month): 5 (October)
Pages: 871-904

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:114:y:2006:i:5:p:871-904

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  1. Viscusi, W Kip & Aldy, Joseph E, 2003. " The Value of a Statistical Life: A Critical Review of Market Estimates throughout the World," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 5-76, August.
  2. Robert H. Topel & Finis Welch, 1986. "Efficient Labor Contracts with Employmeny Risk," UCLA Economics Working Papers 399, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 339-57, April.
  4. Becker, Gary S & Mulligan, Casey B, 1997. "The Endogenous Determination of Time Preference," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 729-58, August.
  5. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley, 2001. "The lifecycle model of consumption and saving," IFS Working Papers W01/15, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  6. Browning, Martin & Hansen, Lars Peter & Heckman, James J., 1999. "Micro data and general equilibrium models," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 543-633 Elsevier.
  7. repec:reg:rpubli:282 is not listed on IDEAS
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