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Health Expenditures And Life Expectancy Around The World: A Quantile Regression Approach


  • Maksym Obrizan

    () (Kyiv School of Economics, Kyiv Economic Institute)

  • George L. Wehby

    (University of Iowa)


Previous literature has produced mixed results on the effects of country health expenditures on longevity. More importantly, all previous studies have evaluated the expenditure effects on the mean of the life expectancy distribution, ignoring the possibility that the expenditure returns may not be the same for countries that differ in their life expectancies. In this paper, we evaluate the heterogeneity in country health expenditure effects throughout the life expectancy distribution applying quantile regression to an assembled dataset of 177 countries. We find significant heterogeneities in expenditures effects on life expectancy that are completely masked by ordinary least squares (OLS), which underestimates (overestimates) the expenditure returns for countries ranking at low (high) life-expectancy quantiles. The largest returns from increased spending are for countries at the left margin of the life expectancy distribution (mainly at quantiles 0.25 and lower), for which a $100 increase in per capita spending leads to 11.5 and 11 months of life for males and females, respectively. The results suggest that increasing healthcare spending in these countries may have significant population-wide life expectancy returns.

Suggested Citation

  • Maksym Obrizan & George L. Wehby, 2012. "Health Expenditures And Life Expectancy Around The World: A Quantile Regression Approach," Discussion Papers 47, Kyiv School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kse:dpaper:47 Note: Revise and Resubmit to Health Economics

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yannis Bilias & Roger Koenker, 2001. "Quantile regression for duration data: A reappraisal of the Pennsylvania Reemployment Bonus Experiments," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 199-220.
    2. Omar Arias & Walter Sosa-Escudero & Kevin F. Hallock, 2001. "Individual heterogeneity in the returns to schooling: instrumental variables quantile regression using twins data," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 7-40.
    3. Koenker,Roger, 2005. "Quantile Regression," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521845731, March.
    4. George L. Wehby & Jeffrey C. Murray & Eduardo E. Castilla & Jorge S. Lopez-Camelo & Robert L. Ohsfeldt, 2009. "Quantile effects of prenatal care utilization on birth weight in Argentina," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(11), pages 1307-1321.
    5. Koenker, Roger W & Bassett, Gilbert, Jr, 1978. "Regression Quantiles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 33-50, January.
    6. Wolfe, Barbara L., 1986. "Health status and medical expenditures: Is there a link?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 22(10), pages 993-999, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Health Expenditures; Life Expectancy; Quantile Regression;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • C2 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables

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