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Can Baumol's model of unbalanced growth contribute to explaining the secular rise in health care expenditure? An alternative test

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  • Jochen Hartwig

Abstract

In a recent paper, I argued that Baumol's model of 'unbalanced growth' offers a ready explanation for the observed secular rise in Health Care Expenditure (HCE) in rich countries. Baumol's model implies that HCE is driven by wage increases in excess of productivity growth. I tested this hypothesis empirically, using data from a panel of 19 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries and found robust evidence in favour of Baumol's theory. An alternative way to test Baumol's theory is to check whether its implication that variations in the relative price of medical care contribute significantly to explaining variations in health expenditure in the same direction has an empirical grounding. Earlier studies, although mostly not in an explicit attempt to test Baumol's theory, have occasionally rejected this hypothesis. Despite poor data quality of the available medical price indices, I perform the alternative test using data for nine OECD countries. My findings suggest that the relative price of medical care is in fact a statistically significant explanatory variable for health expenditure, thus lending support to Baumol's theory.

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  • Jochen Hartwig, 2011. "Can Baumol's model of unbalanced growth contribute to explaining the secular rise in health care expenditure? An alternative test," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(2), pages 173-184.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:43:y:2011:i:2:p:173-184 DOI: 10.1080/00036840802400470
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    Cited by:

    1. Potrafke, Niklas, 2010. "The growth of public health expenditures in OECD countries: Do government ideology and electoral motives matter?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 797-810, December.
    2. Catalin Dragomirescu-Gaina, 2015. "An empirical inquiry into the determinants of public education spending in Europe," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-24, December.
    3. Aradhna Aggarwal & Nagesh Kumar, 2012. "Structural Change, Industrialization and Poverty Reduction: The Case of India," Development Papers 1206, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) South and South-West Asia Office.
    4. Jochen Hartwig & Jan-Egbert Sturm, 2017. "Testing the Grossman model of medical spending determinants with macroeconomic panel data," Chemnitz Economic Papers 001, Department of Economics, Chemnitz University of Technology, revised Feb 2017.
    5. Siciliani Luigi, 2013. "The Economics of Long-Term Care," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 14(2), pages 343-375, August.
    6. Colombier, Carsten, 2012. "Drivers of health care expenditure: Does Baumol's cost disease loom large?," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 12-5, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
    7. Akinwande A. Atanda & Andrea K. Menclova & W. Robert Reed, 2016. "Is Health Care Infected by Baumol’s Cost Disease? Test of a New Model," Working Papers in Economics 16/33, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
    8. Bates, Laurie J. & Santerre, Rexford E., 2013. "Does the U.S. health care sector suffer from Baumol's cost disease? Evidence from the 50 states," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 386-391.
    9. Hofmarcher, Maria M. & Festl, Eva & Bishop-Tarver, Leslie, 2016. "Health sector employment growth calls for improvements in labor productivity," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(8), pages 894-902.
    10. Bates, Laurie & Santerre, Rexford, 2013. "Is the U.S. Private Education Sector Infected by Baumol’s Cost Disease? Evidence from the 50 States," MPRA Paper 52300, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Akinwande A. Atanda & Andrea K. Menclova & W. Robert Reed, 2016. "Is Health Care Infected by Baumol’s Cost Disease? Test of a New Model Using an OECD Dataset," Working Papers in Economics 16/04, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
    12. 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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