Democracy in Africa
Thorvaldur Gylfason, 17 November 2013
Based on statistical measures of different degrees of democracy vs. autocracy, this article briefly reviews the progress of democracy around the world during the past 212 years, and places democratic developments in Africa since 1960 in that context. Democracy is positively associated with education, which in turn is associated with lower fertility and greater longevity. Democracy is also associated with reduced corruption. Together, these effects suggest democracy should be good for growth – a hypothesis that is borne out by the data.
A man’s admiration for absolute government is proportionate to the contempt he feels for those around him.
― Alexis de Tocqueville
Until the second half of the 19th century, there were so few democratic states around the world that they could be counted on the fingers of one hand.
Topics: Development, Economic history, Politics and economics
Tags: Africa, anocracy, autocracy, Corruption, democracy, education, fertility, growth, life expectancy
Who lives longer?
Josep Pijoan-Mas, Víctor Ríos-Rull, 30 September 2012
What explains differences in life expectancy at age 50? This column looks at the effect of wealth, education, and marital status. It finds that by far the most important factor is education, and explores what this might mean for policy.
Economists have long been worried about income inequality and its effects on welfare. For instance, workers with a college degree earn on average much more than those who did not complete high school. This disparity translates into large differences in consumption levels and hence welfare (see, for instance, Heathcote et al. 2010).
Topics: Education, Health economics, Poverty and income inequality
Tags: education, health, life expectancy, wealth
Diseases and development: Does life expectancy increase income growth?
Uwe Sunde, Matteo Cervellati, 6 January 2012
Does rising life expectancy boost economic growth? Existing evidence is mixed, with the relationship appearing to change over time. This column presents recent research showing that living longer may have a negative effect on growth to begin with, but once fertility declines the effect becomes significantly positive. Moreover, higher life expectancy increases the probability of such a switch in fertility behaviour.
Across countries, high life expectancy is associated with high income per capita. But do improvements in life expectancy cause increases in per capita income? The answer to this question has far-reaching implications. Support to implement better health infrastructure may not only affect individual well-being, but also foster economic development.
Topics: Development, Health economics, Macroeconomic policy
Tags: demographics, life expectancy, population
Improving child health reduces disability and health inequalities among adults: Evidence from Ireland
Liam Delaney, James P Smith, Mark McGovern, 23 October 2011
Public-health interventions in Ireland during the 1940s were successful in dramatically reducing infant mortality. This column argues that in addition to any immediate benefits, they also had long-run effects by improving the health of the adults who were affected as children, especially those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
There have been important improvements in the life expectancy of birth cohorts across time in developed countries at around 3 years per decade. Morbidity also fell at a rate of 50% among the elderly between 1984 and 2000 (Fogel 2005).
Topics: Health economics
Tags: child health, Ireland, life expectancy
Rising inequality between countries in adult length of life
Ryan D Edwards, 10 July 2010
In the least 30 years, the difference in life expectancy at birth across the globe has fallen dramatically. This column presents new data on life expectancy within and between countries for the period 1970 to 2000. Controlling for infant mortality, it finds that while within-country inequality in life expectancy fell, between-country inequality rose, leaving total inequality unchanged.
Over just three decades, the difference in life expectancy across the globe has fallen dramatically (Wilson 2001). In 1970, life expectancy at birth was approaching 54 years among the poorest half of the world, nearly 15 years lower than the life expectancy in richer countries.
Topics: Health economics
Tags: Inequality, life expectancy, mortality rates
The quality of medical care, behavioural risk factors, and longevity growth
Frank R. Lichtenberg, 27 June 2009
Many healthcare policymakers and analysts are focused on controlling rising medical costs. Is attacking high-cost, low-benefit medical innovation a solution? This column estimates that medical innovation – the use of advanced diagnostic imaging, newer drugs, and higher-ranked physicians – significantly increases life expectancy without raising medical expenditures per capita.
The cost of medical care continues to rise rapidly in the US and other industrialised countries.
Topics: Health economics
Tags: healthcare costs, life expectancy, Medical care, medical innovation
Longevity and investment in human capital: Lessons from today's developed countries
Moshe Hazan, 27 September 2008
The World Health Organisation recently argued that improving the longevity of the poor is not only an end in itself but also a means to achieving economic development. This column presents contrary evidence from the history of the US.
Conventional wisdom suggests that an increase in life expectancy raises the time period over which investments in schooling can be amortised, thus raising schooling. Figure 1 shows the positive correlation between life expectancy at age 5 and average years of schooling for American men born between 1840 and 1970.
Topics: Development, Health economics
Tags: economic growth, education, life expectancy