Health economics

Psychological therapy costs nothing

Richard Layard, David M. Clark, 17 July 2014

Mental illness is the main sickness of the working age population with economic costs around 8% of GDP. This column, based on the authors’ recent book, discusses the effectiveness of a large programme of psychological therapy, launched in England in 2008. The savings due to welfare benefits, extra taxes, and physical healthcare outweigh the costs of the programme. In this case, psychological therapy costs nothing.

Do trans-fat bans save lives?

Brandon Restrepo, Matthias Rieger, 16 July 2014

Artificial trans fat is omnipresent in the global food chain, but the medical consensus is that it increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke. Between 2007 and 2011, New York City and six other county health departments implemented bans on trans fat in restaurants. This column presents the first evaluation of the effect of these bans on cardiovascular disease mortality rates.

Trust-based working time spurs innovation

Holger Görg, Olivier N. Godart, Aoife Hanley, Christiane Krieger-Boden, 8 July 2014

Many firms are replacing traditional working hours with more flexible arrangements, reflecting new thinking on employee motivation. This column presents evidence from Germany that trust-based working time is associated with increased innovation. However, trust-based working hours also contribute to the blurring of workers’ professional and private lives, and may lead to excessive overtime. Careful design of trust-based working arrangements is required to reap the innovations gains while avoiding the health pitfalls.

Minimum prices for alcohol should work

Joan Costa-i-Font, 30 June 2014

Addicts may not respond to price incentives as we would expect. This problem, combined with the fear of disproportionally taxing the poor, makes it difficult to address the consumption externalities caused by addictive substances. This column reviews recent literature showing the efficacy of minimum pricing on alcohol, and the curious result that alcohol consumption now seems to be increasing in household income.

We are what we eat: how and why governments intervene in food markets

Rachel Griffith, 26 May 2014

Diet-related chronic diseases are a major public health concern. Addressing this concern is a key government policy objective. This Vox Talk argues that the impact of these policies on diet and health outcomes depends on how consumers adapt their consumption behaviour and on how firms respond in terms of the prices they set and the foods they offer.

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