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The economic analysis of inequalities in health

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  • Muurinen, Jaana-Marja
  • Le Grand, Julian

Abstract

The paper explains the economist's concept of human capital, and uses it to analyse some of the problems raised in the Black Report on inequalities in health. Individuals are assumed to have an optimal 'stock' of health, defined as the level of stock for which the marginal benefits of further investment in the stock falls below its marginal cost. Differences in marginal benefits and costs between individuals will thus lead to differences in their health stocks. Use of this simple model and its associated concepts can be used to help explain, for instance, why social class differences in mortality are steepest in early adulthood and shallowest in the decade before retirement or why manual workers who 'need' more health than non-manual workers are nonetheless in general less healthy. The model can also contribute to the discussion of normative issues, for instance, to refine the concept of equality of access. However, while it has great potential in organising and analysing hypotheses concerning health behaviour, the model is in no way a substitute for other approaches; indeed it only becomes meaningful when interpreted in sociological, epidemiological and medical terms.

Suggested Citation

  • Muurinen, Jaana-Marja & Le Grand, Julian, 1985. "The economic analysis of inequalities in health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 20(10), pages 1029-1035, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:20:y:1985:i:10:p:1029-1035
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    Cited by:

    1. David Cutler & Angus Deaton & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2006. "The Determinants of Mortality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 97-120, Summer.
    2. Bolin, Kristian & Lindgren, Björn, 2016. "Non-monotonic health behaviours – implications for individual health-related behaviour in a demand-for-health framework," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 9-26.
    3. Bassanini, Andrea & Caroli, Eve, 2014. "Is work bad for health? The role of constraint vs choice," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 1402, CEPREMAP.
    4. Galama, Titus & Kapteyn, Arie, 2011. "Grossman’s missing health threshold," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1044-1056.
    5. Thierry Debrand & Pascale Lengagne, 2007. "Organisation du travail et sante des seniors en Europe," Working Papers DT3, IRDES institut for research and information in health economics, revised Feb 2007.
    6. Thierry Debrand & Pascale Lengagne, 2007. "Pénibilité au travail et santé des seniors en Europe," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 403(1), pages 19-38.
    7. Dewar, Diane M., 1998. "Do those with more formal education have better health insurance opportunities?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 267-277, June.
    8. Anne Case & Angus S. Deaton, 2005. "Broken Down by Work and Sex: How Our Health Declines," NBER Chapters,in: Analyses in the Economics of Aging, pages 185-212 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Titus Galama & Arie Kapteyn & Raquel Fonseca Benito & Pierre-Carl Michaud, 2009. "Grossman's Health Threshold and Retirement," Working Papers 658, RAND Corporation.
    10. Galama, Titus & Kapteyn, Arie, 2011. "Grossman’s missing health threshold," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, pages 1044-1056.
    11. Johnson Rucker C., 2012. "Health Dynamics and the Evolution of Health Inequality over the Life Course: The Importance of Neighborhood and Family Background," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(3), pages 1-69, January.
    12. repec:dau:papers:123456789/12483 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Eric Defebvre, 2016. "Harder, better, faster... yet stronger? Working conditions and self-declaration of chronic diseases," TEPP Working Paper 2016-07, TEPP.
    14. Eugene Choo & Michael Denny, 2006. "Wearing Out -- The Decline in Health," Working Papers tecipa-258, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    15. Johnson Rucker C & Schoeni Robert F, 2011. "The Influence of Early-Life Events on Human Capital, Health Status, and Labor Market Outcomes Over the Life Course," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(3), pages 1-57, September.
    16. Jacobson, Lena, 2000. "The family as producer of health -- an extended grossman model," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(5), pages 611-637, September.
    17. Ismail Sirageldin & Francois Diop, 1991. "Equity and Efficiency in Health Status and Health Services Utilization: A Household Perspective," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 30(4), pages 415-437.
    18. Hostenkamp, Gisela & Stolpe, Michael, 2006. "The health gradient and early retirement: Evidence from the German Socio-economic Panel," Kiel Working Papers 1305, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    19. Riviere-Cinnamond, Ana, 2005. "Animal Health Policy and Practice: Scaling-up Community-based Animal Health Systems, Lessons from Human Health," PPLPI Working Papers 23775, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Initiative.

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