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Drivers of health care expenditure: Does Baumol's cost disease loom large?

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  • Colombier, Carsten

Abstract

According to Baumol (1993) health care epitomises Baumol's cost disease. Sectors that suffer from Baumol's cost disease are characterised by slow productivity growth due to a high labour coefficient. As a result, unit costs of these sectors rise inexorably if the respective wages increase with productivity growth of the progressive industries such as manufacturing. Thus, according to Baumol (1993) the secular rise in health-care expenditure has been unavoidable. This present paper demonstrates that health care is contracted by Baumol's cost disease, but only to a minor extent. Consequently, policy-makers have more leeway to curbever-increasing health-care expenditure than is suggested by Baumol (1993) and other authors. In addition, we test the implications of Baumol's cost disease for health care by avoiding the well-known flaws in constructing medical price indices. Therefore, the adjusted Baumol variable derived in this paper is also extremely appropriate to test the validity of Baumol's cost diseases of other service industries such as education or the live performing arts. Additionally, our analysis suggests that health care is rather a necessity than a luxury at the national level, which conflicts with macroeconomic evidence provided in the relevant literature.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:uoccpe:125
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    Cited by:

    1. Bradley Rossen & Akhter Faroque, 2016. "Diagnosing the Causes of Rising Health-Care Expenditure in Canada: Does Baumol's Cost Disease Loom Large?," American Journal of Health Economics, MIT Press, vol. 2(2), pages 184-212, Spring.
    2. repec:kap:pubcho:v:175:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11127-018-0510-z is not listed on IDEAS
    3. 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.
    4. Manabu Nose, 2017. "Estimation of drivers of public education expenditure: Baumol’s effect revisited," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 24(3), pages 512-535, June.
    5. Laurie J. Bates & Rexford E. Santerre, 2015. "Does Baumol's Cost Disease Account for Nonfederal Public-Sector Cost Growth in the United States? A New Test of an Old Idea," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 96(1), pages 251-260, March.
    6. repec:eee:trapol:v:61:y:2018:i:c:p:10-16 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Colombier, Carsten, 2016. "Population aging in healthcare - a minor issue? Evidence from Switzerland," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 16-3, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    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.
    13. Jochen Hartwig & Jan-Egbert Sturm, 2014. "Robust determinants of health care expenditure growth," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(36), pages 4455-4474, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    health-care expenditure; Baumol's cost disease; the macroeconomics of health care; the adjusted Baumol variable;

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General

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