Joan Costa-i-Font, Alistair McGuire, Nebibe Varol, 10 May 2014

Generic medicines are cheaper than their branded counterparts, offering potential savings in healthcare budgets. Medicine-price regulation plays an important role in the expansion of the market for generic medicines. This column presents new evidence that higher levels of price regulation, by lowering the expected price to generic manufacturers, lead (ceteris paribus) to greater delays in generic entry.

Angus Deaton, 20 March 2014

The world has become healthier and wealthier since 1960, as measured by life expectancy and GDP per capita. In this column Angus Deaton introduces his new book and argues that the world is indeed a better place than it used to be, albeit with big setbacks, and that progress opens up vast inequalities.

Joan Costa-i-Font, Alistair McGuire, Victoria Serra-Sastre, 19 January 2013

Although healthcare innovation can make treatment cheaper, it can also make policy decisions more difficult by introducing new, better but more expensive technologies. This column argues that, unlike other technologies, healthcare technology is intermediated by insurance mechanisms, both private and public. Although health insurance coverage incentivises expenditure on innovation, it does not seem to heighten technology adoption, a challenge to the idea that innovation increases healthcare costs. Indeed, evidence suggests that technology diffusion is limited by other institutional barriers.

Marty Gaynor, Carol Propper, Stephan Seiler, 13 January 2013

Greater choice and competition in healthcare is a popular reform model. This column discusses recent research suggesting that once restrictions on choice in the UK’s NHS were lifted, patients receiving cardiac surgery became more responsive to the quality of their care. This saved lives and gave hospitals a greater incentive to improve quality.

Janet Currie, Tom Vogl, 15 November 2012

The global decline in ill health has not been met with greater prosperity. What are we to make of healthier and larger populations undercutting per capita economic progress? This column argues that early-life health changes do, in fact, have a huge effect on economic outcomes over the lifecycle. However, the jury is out on how we can best manage – and measure – the apparent play off between better health, higher populations, and poorer per capita economic outcomes.

Sarah Stewart-Brown, 11 November 2012

Eating fruit and vegetables could be good for your mental health. This column explores the evidence, arguing that better surveys need to be carried out if we are to accurately establish causality. If we can understand how mental health is linked to diet, the benefits to the public – and those who decide public policy – could be huge.

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.

Andreas Kuhn, Jean-Philippe Wuellrich, Josef Zweimüller, 25 March 2012

While the retirement age in most developed countries is going up, this column looks at what happens when it goes down. In some countries, those who work in physically demanding jobs are demanding the right to retire earlier. This column finds that people should be careful what they wish for.

Lance Lochner, 17 October 2011

Given recent budget problems around the world, many governments have proposed sharp cuts to education. What are the likely long-run costs of these cuts? This column reviews a growing body of studies and concludes that crime rates are likely to increase, health and mortality are likely to deteriorate, and political and social institutions may suffer.

Martin Kocher, 06 May 2011

Is young people’s economic behaviour different from that of adults? Martin Kocher of the University of Munich talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his experimental research with children and adolescents aged 8 to 18 – and the implications for policy debates around smoking, drinking, drugs, obesity and other health and education issues. The interview was recorded at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Glasgow in August 2010. [Also read the transcript.]

Jeremy D Goldhaber-Fiebert, Alan M Garber, 22 February 2011

Obesity – and its related illnesses – endangers the lives of millions across the world. While healthier, more physically active lifestyles can mitigate this, the question remains of how policymakers can get people to switch from being couch potatoes to keen runner beans. This column presents new evidence suggesting that for many even a nudge may suffice.

Nicholas Bloom, Rebecca Homkes, Raffaella Sadun, John Van Reenen, 17 December 2010

Governments globally face a healthcare bill of around $7 trillion – and set to rise. This column argues that the need to focus on productivity has never been greater. With data from 1,200 hospitals across seven of the world’s wealthiest countries, it suggests that improvements in hospital management practices can help bring about improvements in hospital productivity as well.

Andrew E. Clark, 02 April 2010

Andrew Clark of the Paris School of Economics talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his research on the relationship between income and health, which examines changes in the health and health behaviours (smoking and drinking) of British people who win prizes in the national lottery. The interview was recorded at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference at the University of Surrey in March 2010.

Douglas Almond, 06 November 2009

Douglas Almond of Columbia University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his research with Bhashkar Mazumder on women who are pregnant during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and the impact of fasting on their children – in terms of birth weight and the likelihood of being a boy or girl, as well as later life health outcomes. The interview was recorded at the Centre for Market and Public Organisation in Bristol (UK) in October 2009.

Mariacristina De Nardi, Eric French, John B. Jones, 14 February 2009

The risks of living long and facing high medical expenses go a long way toward explaining elderly persons’ saving decisions. This column shows that the elderly, especially those with high lifetime incomes, keep large asset holdings to address these health concerns. Such behaviour is particularly strong in the US.

Michael Kremer, 31 October 2008

Michael Kremer of Harvard University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about the potential of ‘advance market commitments’ for encouraging innovative new products in health and agriculture for developing countries. The interview was recorded at the headquarters of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London in October 2008 following a public discussion meeting on ‘Rising food prices: causes, consequences and remedies’.

Shin-Yi Chou, Jin-Tan Liu, Michael Grossman, Theodore J. Joyce, 12 December 2007

The positive correlation between heath and education is well known. Establishing the direction of causality, however, is as difficult as it is important. Good policy design cannot rely on correlations. Here is evidence from a unique natural experiment that parental education, especially of mothers, causes good health in children.

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