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The Relationship Between Health and Growth: When Lucas Meets Nelson-Phelps

  • Philippe Aghion
  • Peter Howitt
  • Fabrice Murtin

This paper revisits the relationship between health and growth in light of modern endogenous growth theory. We propose a unified framework that encompasses the growth effects of both the rate of improvement of health and the level of health. Based on cross-country regressions over the period 1960-2000, where we instrument for both variables, we find that a higher initial level and a higher rate of improvement in life expectancy both have a significantly positive impact on per capita GDP growth. Then, restricting attention to OECD countries, we find supportive evidence that only the reduction in mortality below age forty generates productivity gains, which in turn may explain why the positive correlation between health and growth in cross-OECD country regressions appears to have weakened since 1960.

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Article provided by Università di Perugia in its journal Review of Economics and Institutions.

Volume (Year): 2 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 ()

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Handle: RePEc:pia:review:v:2:y:2011:i:1:n:1
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  1. Sandra E. Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," Working Papers 200718, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  2. Oded Galor, 2005. "The Demographic Transition and the Emergence of Sustained Economic Growth," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 494-504, 04/05.
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  8. Mikael Lindahl & Alan B. Krueger, 2001. "Education for Growth: Why and for Whom?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1101-1136, December.
  9. Murtin, Fabrice & Wacziarg, Romain, 2011. "The Democratic Transition," CEPR Discussion Papers 8599, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Christian Morrisson & Fabrice Murtin, 2009. "The Century of Education," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-42.
  11. Ronald Lee, 2003. "The Demographic Transition: Three Centuries of Fundamental Change," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 167-190, Fall.
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  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Hoyt Bleakley, 2003. "Disease and Development: Evidence from the American South," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 376-386, 04/05.
  16. Zhang, Jie & Zhang, Junsen & Lee, Ronald, 2003. "Rising longevity, education, savings, and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 83-101, February.
  17. Edward Miguel & Michael Kremer, 2004. "Worms: Identifying Impacts on Education and Health in the Presence of Treatment Externalities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 159-217, 01.
  18. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:122:y:2007:i:1:p:73-117 is not listed on IDEAS
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