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The Effect of Health on Economic Growth: Theory and Evidence

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  • David E. Bloom
  • David Canning
  • Jaypee Sevilla

Abstract

Macroeconomists acknowledge the contribution of human capital to economic growth, but their empirical studies define human capital solely in terms of schooling. In this paper, we extend production function models of economic growth to account for two additional variables that microeconomists have identified as fundamental components of human capital: work experience and health. Our main result is that good health has a positive, sizable, and statistically significant effect on aggregate output. We find little variation across countries in average work experience, thus differentials in work experience account for little variation in rates of economic growth. Finally, we find that the effects of average schooling on national output are consistent with microeconomic estimates of the effects of individual schooling on earnings, suggesting that education creates no discernible externalities.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8587.

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Date of creation: Nov 2001
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Publication status: published as Bloom, David E., David Canning and Jaypee Sevilla. "The Effect of Health on Economic Growth: A Production Function Approach." World Development 32, 1 (2004): 1–13.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8587

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  1. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 2000. "International Data on Educational Attainment Updates and Implications," NBER Working Papers 7911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Lant Pritchett & Lawrence H. Summers, 1996. "Wealthier is Healthier," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 841-868.
  4. 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.
  5. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
  6. Peter Klenow & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 1997. "The Neoclassical Revival in Growth Economics: Has It Gone Too Far?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 73-114 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. John Strauss & Duncan Thomas, 1998. "Health, Nutrition, and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 766-817, June.
  8. David E. Bloom & Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1998. "Geography, Demography, and Economic Growth in Africa," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(2), pages 207-296.
  9. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Mellinger, 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," CID Working Papers 1, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  10. David E. Bloom & David Canning, 2004. "The Health and Wealth of Africa," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 5(2), pages 57-81, April.
  11. Peter J. Klenow & Mark Bils, 2000. "Does Schooling Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1160-1183, December.
  12. Young, Alwyn, 1994. "Lessons from the East Asian NICS: A contrarian view," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 964-973, April.
  13. Gallup, J.L. & Sachs, J.D. & Mullinger, A., 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," Papers 1, Chicago - Graduate School of Business.
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