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Drivers of health care expenditure: Does Baumol's cost disease loom large?

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  • Colombier, Carsten

Abstract

According to Baumol (1993) health care epitomises Baumol's cost disease. Sectors that suffer from Baumol's cost disease are characterised by slow productivity growth due to a high labour coefficient. As a result, unit costs of these sectors rise inexorably if the respective wages increase with productivity growth of the progressive industries such as manufacturing. Thus, according to Baumol (1993) the secular rise in health-care expenditure has been unavoidable. This present paper demonstrates that health care is contracted by Baumol's cost disease, but only to a minor extent. Consequently, policy-makers have more leeway to curbever-increasing health-care expenditure than is suggested by Baumol (1993) and other authors. In addition, we test the implications of Baumol's cost disease for health care by avoiding the well-known flaws in constructing medical price indices. Therefore, the adjusted Baumol variable derived in this paper is also extremely appropriate to test the validity of Baumol's cost diseases of other service industries such as education or the live performing arts. Additionally, our analysis suggests that health care is rather a necessity than a luxury at the national level, which conflicts with macroeconomic evidence provided in the relevant literature. --

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Paper provided by University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics in its series FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge with number 12-5.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:uoccpe:125

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Keywords: health-care expenditure; Baumol's cost disease; the macroeconomics of health care; the adjusted Baumol variable;

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  1. William D. Nordhaus, 2002. "The Health of Nations: The Contribution of Improved Health to Living Standards," NBER Working Papers 8818, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jochen Hartwig, 2007. "Can Baumol's Model of Unbalanced Growth Contribute to Explaining the Secular Rise in Health Care Expenditure? An Alternative Test," KOF Working papers 07-178, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  3. Nadim Ahmad & François Lequiller & Pascal Marianna & Dirk Pilat & Paul Schreyer & Anita Wölfl, 2003. "Comparing Labour Productivity Growth in the OECD Area: The Role of Measurement," OECD Statistics Working Papers 2003/5, OECD Publishing.
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  9. Jochen Hartwig, 2005. "Sind unsere gesamtwirtschaftlichen Probleme überhaupt lösbar?," KOF Working papers 05-112, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  10. Getzen, Thomas E., 2000. "Health care is an individual necessity and a national luxury: applying multilevel decision models to the analysis of health care expenditures," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 259-270, March.
  11. Mary O'Mahony & Marcel P. Timmer, 2009. "Output, Input and Productivity Measures at the Industry Level: The EU KLEMS Database," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(538), pages F374-F403, 06.
  12. Jochen Hartwig, 2006. "What Drives Health Care Expenditure? Baumol’s Model of ‘Unbalanced Growth’ Revisited," KOF Working papers 06-133, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  13. Dreger, C. & Reimers, H.E., 2005. "Health Care Expenditures in OECD Countries: A Panel Unit Root and Cointegration Analysis," International Journal of Applied Econometrics and Quantitative Studies, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 2(2), pages 5-20.
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Cited by:
  1. Chen, Xin & Moul, Charles C., 2014. "Disease or utopia? Testing Baumol in education," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 220-223.

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