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Accounting for the Effect of Health on Economic Growth

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I use microeconomic estimates of the effect of health on individual outcomes to construct macroeconomic estimates of the proximate effect of health on GDP per capita. I employ a variety of methods to construct estimates of the return to health, which I combine with cross-country and historical data on height, adult survival rates, and age at menarche. Using my preferred estimate, eliminating health differences among countries would reduce the variance of log GDP per worker by 9.9 percent and reduce the ratio of GDP per worker at the 90th percentile to GDP per worker at the 10th percentile from 20.5 to 17.9. While this effect is economically significant, it is also substantially smaller than estimates of the effect of health on economic growth that are derived from cross-country regressions. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Paper provided by Brown University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2005-07.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:bro:econwp:2005-07

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Postal: Department of Economics, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912

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  2. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker Than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116, February.
  3. Mankiw, N Gregory & Romer, David & Weil, David N, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-37, May.
  4. Gary S. Becker & Tomas J. Philipson & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2005. "The Quantity and Quality of Life and the Evolution of World Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 277-291, March.
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  8. Maluccio, John A. & Hoddinott, John & Behrman, Jere R. & Martorell, Reynaldo & Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Stein, Aryeh D., 2006. "The impact of an experimental nutritional intervention in childhood on education among Guatemalan adults:," FCND briefs 207, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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  10. Pritchett, Lant & Summers, Lawrence H., 1993. "Wealthier is healthier," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1150, The World Bank.
  11. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson, 2006. "Disease and Development: The Effect of Life Expectancy on Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 12269, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Fogel, Robert W., 1993. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 1993-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
  14. Alwyn Young, 2004. "The Gift of the Dying: The Tragedy of AIDS and the Welfare of Future African Generations," NBER Working Papers 10991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
  16. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Returns to Birthweight," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 586-601, May.
  17. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1995. "The Growth of Nations," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1732, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  18. Bloom, David E. & Canning, David & Sevilla, Jaypee, 2004. "The Effect of Health on Economic Growth: A Production Function Approach," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 1-13, January.
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