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Why Have Health Expenditures as a Share fo GDP Risen So Much?

  • Charles I. Jones

Aggregate health expenditures as a share of GDP have risen in the United States from about 5 percent in 1960 to nearly 14 percent in recent years. Why? This paper explores a simple explanation based on technological progress. Medical advances allow diseases to be cured today, at a cost, that could not be cured at any price in the past. When this technological progress is combined with a Medicare- like transfer program to pay the health expenses of the elderly, the model is able to reproduce the basic facts of recent U.S. experience, including the large increase in the health expenditure share, a rise in life expectancy, and an increase in the size of health-related transfer payments as a share of GDP.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9325.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9325.

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Date of creation: Nov 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9325
Note: EFG HC HE
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  1. Joseph P. Newhouse, 1992. "Medical Care Costs: How Much Welfare Loss?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 3-21, Summer.
  2. Irving Shapiro & Matthew D. Shapiro & David Wilcox, 2001. "Measuring the value of Cataract Surgery," NBER Chapters, in: Medical Care Output and Productivity, pages 411-438 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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