Health economics

Leandro Prados de la Escosura, 26 July 2015

How does Latin American well-being compare to the advanced nations? This column presents a new historical index of human development that allows for analyses of trends in Latin American development since 1870. The results unearth a number of puzzles that pit rising income against flagging developments in well-being.

Charles Courtemanche, Josh Pinkston, Christopher J. Ruhm, George L Wehby, 24 July 2015

Obesity is fast becoming a prominent global health issue. This column presents new evidence tentatively suggesting that variables related to the costs of eating – particularly whether there is a big discount warehouse nearby – are leading drivers of the rise in obesity occurring since the early 1980s. These findings should help policymakers work with businesses to find the best solution to tackle obesity.

Howard Bodenhorn, Timothy W. Guinnane, Thomas Mroz, 22 July 2015

Were living standards during early industrialisation as terrible as we imagine? Robert Fogel, the Nobel prize-winning economic historian, taught us a great deal about studying long-term living standards through looking into people’s height. This column argues that one of Fogel’s early claims turns out to have, at best, a weak foundation. The measured decline of mean height during industrialisation reflects in large part the nature of the data sources, not necessarily changes in the height of the underlying populations. The Industrial Revolution did not necessarily make people shorter.

Anne Case, Angus Deaton, 18 July 2015

High suicide rates are often cited as evidence of social failure. Despite this, some countries and regions that do very well in terms of happiness have among the highest suicide rates. This column explores this paradox using global data on suicide and self-reported life satisfaction. Although the paradox is confirmed for Eastern European and wealthy countries, inconsistent patterns emerge when other demographic factors are taken into account. This might reflect the empirical difficulty of explaining suicide, but might also be indicative of the unreliability of self-reports of happiness.

Daniel S. Hamermesh, 16 July 2015

Children can generate time-related and financial stress for their parents. This column argues that both parents are likely to experience increased levels of such stress, but new mothers are more likely to experience increases in time-related stress than new fathers. This increase is so costly to the new mother that it would require a doubling of her income in order to offset it.

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