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Health Economics

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Reclaiming the Environmental Agenda

The past twenty-five years have seen a significant evolution in environmental policy, with new environmental legislation and substantive amendments to earlier laws, significant advances in environmental science, and changes in the treatment of science (and scientific uncertainty) by the courts. This book offers a detailed discussion of the important issues in environmental law, policy, and economics, tracing their development over the past few decades through an examination of environmental law cases and commentaries by leading scholars.

A vast body of empirical evidence has accumulated demonstrating that incentives affect health care choices made by both consumers and suppliers of health care services. Decisions in health care are affected by many types of incentives, such as the rate of return pharmaceutical manufacturers expect on their investments in research and development, or disincentives, such as increases in the copayments patients must make when they visit physicians or are admitted to hospitals.

Most experts would agree that the current medical malpractice system in the United States does not work effectively either to compensate victims fairly or prevent injuries caused by medical errors. Policy responses to a series of medical malpractice crises have not resulted in effective reform and have not altered the fundamental incentives of the stakeholders. In Medical Malpractice, economist Frank Sloan and lawyer Lindsey Chepke examine the U.S.

The Health and Economic Damages of Air Pollution in China

China's historic economic expansion is driven by fossil fuels, which increase its emissions of both local air pollutants and greenhouse gases dramatically. Clearing the Air is an innovative, quantitative examination of the national damage caused by China's degraded air quality, conducted in a pathbreaking, interdisciplinary U.S.-China collaboration. Its damage estimates are allocated by sector, making it possible for the first time to judge whether, for instance, power generation, transportation, or an unexpected source such as cement production causes the greatest environmental harm.

What does a pack of cigarettes cost a smoker, the smoker's family, and society? This longitudinal study on the private and social costs of smoking calculates that the cost of smoking to a 24-year-old woman smoker is $86,000 over a lifetime; for a 24-year-old male smoker the cost is $183,000. The total social cost of smoking over a lifetime -- including both private costs to the smoker and costs imposed on others (including second-hand smoke and costs of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) -- comes to $106,000 for a woman and $220,000 for a man.

Findings and Policy Implications

While human capital is a clear determinant of economic growth, only recently has health's role in this process become a focus of serious academic inquiry. By marrying the separate fields of health economics and growth theory, this groundbreaking book explores the explicit mechanisms by which a population's individual and collective health status affects a nation's economic development and performance.

A Health Care Conundrum

The health care industry differs from most other industries in that medical pricing is primarily administered by the government and private insurers and in that it uses several types of contracts. Providers may receive a fixed sum for all necessary services within a given period of time, for the necessary services to treat a given condition, or for each specific service. The industry is changing dramatically, offering many natural experiments to aid understanding of the economics of pricing for health care.

This series from the NBER presents new research by leading economists on current health care policy issues. The papers in this seventh volume, originally presented at the annual Frontiers in Health Policy Research conference held in Washington D.C. in the summer of 2003, reflect the economic challenges faced by policymakers and health care professionals in an age of budget deficits. Topics discussed include prescription drug benefits as a stand-alone component of Medicare, disability rates and Medicare costs, and conversion to for-profit health plans.

Why, at the peak of the Jim Crow era early in the twentieth century, did life expectancy for African Americans rise dramatically? And why, when public officials were denying African Americans access to many other public services, did public water and sewer service for African Americans improve and expand? Using the qualitative and quantitative tools of demography, economics, geography, history, law, and medicine, Werner Troesken shows that the answers to these questions are closely connected.

Economic Models of Global Warming

Humanity is risking the health of the natural environment through a myriad of interventions, including the atmospheric emission of trace gases such as carbon dioxide, the use of ozone-depleting chemicals, the engineering of massive land-use changes, and the destruction of the habitats of many species. It is imperative that we learn to protect our common geophysical and biological resources. Although scientists have studied greenhouse warming for decades, it is only recently that society has begun to consider the economic, political, and institutional aspects of environmental intervention.

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