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Health and the Economy in the United States from 1750 to the Present

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  • Dora L. Costa

Abstract

I discuss the health transition in the United States, bringing new data to bear on health indicators and investigating the changing relationship between health, income, and the environment. I argue that scientific advances played an outsize role and that health improvements were largest among the poor. Health improvements were not a precondition for modern economic growth. The gains to health are largest when the economy has moved from "brawn" to "brains" because this is when the wage returns to education are high, leading the healthy to obtain more education. More education may improve use of health knowledge, producing a virtuous cycle. (JEL H51, I10, J13, N31, N32)

Suggested Citation

  • Dora L. Costa, 2015. "Health and the Economy in the United States from 1750 to the Present," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 53(3), pages 503-570, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:53:y:2015:i:3:p:503-70
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jel.53.3.503
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    1. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:31:y:2018:i:c:p:228-237 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Hoque,Mohammad Mainul & King,Elizabeth M. & Montenegro,Claudio E. & Orazem,Peter F., 2017. "Longevity and lifetime education : global evidence from 919 surveys," Policy Research Working Paper Series 8175, The World Bank.
    3. repec:aea:aecrev:v:108:y:2018:i:4-5:p:1074-1117 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:26:y:2017:i:c:p:96-111 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Daniel Gallardo Albarr‡n, 2017. "Missed opportunities? The development of human welfare in Western Europe, 1913-1950," Working Papers 0114, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    6. repec:taf:vhimxx:v:50:y:2017:i:2:p:79-95 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Andrei Markevich & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2018. "The Economic Effects of the Abolition of Serfdom: Evidence from the Russian Empire," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(4-5), pages 1074-1117, April.
    8. Dora L. Costa & Heather DeSomer & Eric Hanss & Christopher Roudiez & Sven E. Wilson & Noelle Yetter, 2017. "Union Army veterans, all grown up," Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(2), pages 79-95, April.
    9. Hyclak, Thomas J. & Skeels, Christopher L. & Taylor, Larry W., 2016. "The cardiovascular revolution and economic performance in the OECD countries," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 114-125.
    10. W. Walker Hanlon, 2015. "Pollution and Mortality in the 19th Century," NBER Working Papers 21647, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:30:y:2018:i:c:p:130-149 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Hübler, Olaf, 2017. "Health and Body Mass Index: No Simple Relationship," IZA Discussion Papers 10620, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. D. Mark Anderson & Kerwin Kofi Charles & Daniel I. Rees, 2018. "Public Health Efforts and the Decline in Urban Mortality," NBER Working Papers 25027, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Schneider, Eric B., 2017. "Fetal health stagnation: Have health conditions in utero improved in the United States and Western and Northern Europe over the past 150 years?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 18-26.
    15. Lauren Hoehn Velasco, 2016. "Explaining Declines in US Rural Mortality, 1910-1933: The Role of County Health Departments," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 919, Boston College Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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