Obesity: A global economic issue

Richard Dobbs, Corinne Sawers 13 December 2014

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Obesity is now a critical global issue. More than 2.1 billion people – nearly 30% of the global population – are overweight or obese today (Ng et al. 2014). That’s nearly two and a half times the number of adults and children who are undernourished. Obesity is responsible for about 5% of deaths worldwide. Simon Stevens, chief executive of the National Health Service England, warned in September that “we are sleepwalking into the worst public health emergency for at least three decades.”1

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Topics:  Health economics

Tags:  health, obesity

Temporary contracts are bad for your cognitive health: Evidence from PIAAC

Antonio Cabrales, Juan Dolado, Ricardo Mora 05 December 2014

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Starting with the seminal work by Saint-Paul (1996), there has been a large literature documenting the negative consequences of dual labour markets in several EU countries.1 Among them, Spain is often cited as the most extreme example, since its labour market is characterised by a large gap between the firing costs of workers with permanent and temporary contracts, and by lax regulation of the use of temporary contracts.

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Topics:  Labour markets

Tags:  dual labour markets, labour market regulation, temporary contracts, health, cognitive health, cognitive skills, on-the-job training, training, human capital, firing costs, employment protection, Employment Protection Legislation

Drug quality and global trade

Amir Attaran, Roger Bate, Ginger Zhe Jin, Aparna Mathur 09 October 2014

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Data from the Pharmaceutical Security Institute indicate that poor-quality medicines were found in 124 countries in 2011, with the problem more severe in low- and mid-income countries than in developed countries (IOM 2013). While much attention has been focused on intellectual property rights protection (notably issues surrounding the WTO’s TRIPS1 agreement), poor-quality samples were more prevalent in cheap, generic drugs than in expensive, innovator-branded drugs when we tested drug samples from 18 low-to-mid-income countries (Bate et al. 2011).

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Topics:  Health economics International trade

Tags:  pharmaceuticals, drugs, medicine, health, trade, drug quality, India, Africa, counterfeiting, regulation, market segmentation

The value of variation in clinical practice under uncertainty

Charles F Manski 01 October 2014

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Commentators on delivery of healthcare regularly decry ‘unwarranted’ or ‘inappropriate’ variation in clinical practice and recommend uniform treatment of observationally similar patients. This recommendation, often expressed in clinical practice guidelines, is well-motivated if knowledge of treatment response is strong enough to determine optimal treatments. However, much patient care is delivered with substantial uncertainty.

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Topics:  Health economics

Tags:  health, healthcare, medicine, treatment, uncertainty, ambiguity, regret, diversification, learning

Does grief transfer across generations? In-utero deaths and child outcomes

Sandra E. Black, Paul Devereux, Kjell G. Salvanes 20 August 2014

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What is the effect of stress while pregnant on the health of the baby? This is a question faced by all women – both in developed and developing countries. Indeed, in developed countries, stress may be more prevalent than many physical stressors such as nutritional deficiencies. Despite the pervasiveness of stress in modern society, particularly during pregnancy, we have a very limited understanding of the effect on children’s health when they are born, and whether there are any long-term negative effects in terms of cognitive development and on labour market outcomes.

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Topics:  Health economics

Tags:  health, pregnancy, stress, grief, bereavement

Do trans-fat bans save lives?

Brandon Restrepo, Matthias Rieger 16 July 2014

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The use of artificial trans fat or partially hydrogenated oil – which is industrially produced by adding hydrogen gas to liquid vegetable oil – is widespread across the world’s food production chains and service industries. Aside from the fact that it has the same caloric value as any other fat, there are no known health benefits to consuming artificial trans fat. The food industry prefers using trans-fat-containing oils to healthier oils because it is cheap, it increases the shelf life of food products, it promotes flavour stability, and it improves the texture of food.

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Topics:  Health economics

Tags:  health, food, diet, trans fat, New York, cardiovascular disease, restaurants

Trust-based working time spurs innovation

Holger Görg, Olivier N. Godart, Aoife Hanley, Christiane Krieger-Boden 08 July 2014

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The organisation of work has changed dramatically over the last few decades. In particular, the formerly rigidly regulated working time has been replaced by flexible working hour schemes in numerous firms around the world. Taking Germany as an example, in 2010, 36% of employees were entitled to some form of flexible working hours scheme (Figure 1).

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Topics:  Health economics Labour markets Productivity and Innovation

Tags:  Germany, working hours, trust, health, innovation, motivation, overtime, flexibility, working time

Determinants of generic medicine adoption

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

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With healthcare budgets around the world under pressure, switching to generics seems a natural cost saver. Generic drugs are cheaper alternatives to branded medicines, offering an obvious source of efficiency gains to any health system.

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Topics:  Competition policy Health economics

Tags:  competition, pharmaceuticals, health, regulation, healthcare, drugs, medicine, generics

The great escape from death and deprivation

Angus Deaton 20 March 2014

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Nearly 40 years ago, the demographer Samuel Preston (1975) wrote about changing patterns of life expectancy and income around the world. That paper set the agenda for thinking about global health and global wealth. Its key figure remains useful for describing past and current progress in health and wealth – where we have been and where we are going – as well as for looking at the great health catastrophes of the second half of the twentieth century.

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Topics:  Development Politics and economics

Tags:  wealth, health, inequalities

Health insurance, innovation, and technology adoption

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

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With government budgets under pressure in mature economies, burgeoning healthcare expenditures are under scrutiny. In this light, healthcare innovation can either help by developing new cheaper treatments or make healthcare policy decisions more difficult by introducing new, better but more expensive technologies.

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Topics:  Health economics

Tags:  health, technology, research and development

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