Generalized Cointegration: A New Concept with an Application to Health Expenditure and Health Outcomes
We propose a new generalization of the concept of cointegration that allows for the possibility that a set of variables are involved in an unknown nonlinear relationship. Although these variables may be unit-root non-stationary, there exists a nonlinear combination of them that takes account of such non-stationarity. We then introduce an estimation technique that allows us to test for the presence of this generalized cointegration in the absence of knowledge as to the true nonlinear functional form and the full set of regressors. We outline the basic stages of the technique and discuss how the issue of unit-root non-stationarity and cointegration affects each stage of the estimation procedure. We then apply this technique to the relationship between health expenditure and health outcomes, which is an important but controversial issue. A number of studies have found very little or no relationship between the level of health expenditure and outcomes. In econometric terms, if there is such a relationship then there should exist a cointegrating relationship between these two variables and possibly many others. The problem that arises is that we may be either unable to measure these other variables or that we do not know about them, in which case we may incorrectly find no relationship between health expenditures and outcomes. We then apply the concept of generalized cointegration; we obtain a highly significant relationship between health expenditure and health outcomes.
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