The Origins and the Evolution of Health Economics: a discipline by itself? Led by economists, practitioners or politics?
Health has become a dominant economic and political issue over the past 40 years, with nations experiencing rapid rises in health care spending, and the health sector presenting high levels of expansion, rationalization and organization. I describe how by the end of World War II, both the intellectual and financial resources were being made available to answer the emerging empiricallydriven questions for a new applied branch of economic analysis: Health Economics. I also discuss the driving forces for the evolution of this new field, while identifying two distinct paths in health economic thought: the first rising from a territory previously ploughed, namely by Mushkin (1962), and later developed by Grossman (1972; the second of which stemming from Arrow’s 1963 paper ‘Uncertainty and the Welfare Economics of Medical Care’, a singularity amongst his mathematical economics pearls. Blaug remarked, in 1998: “health economics would seem to be a perfect topic for heterodox dissent and yet, surprisingly enough, radical economists and Marxists have not on the whole been attracted to health economics”. My view is this could have been because “mathematical economists” stepped forward and challenged themselves to solve problems such an unorthodox market posed.
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