Is investing in population health indeed good for economic growth?

Ulrich Mueller, University of Marburg
Joerg W. Fromme, Independent Consultant
Ursula F Trummer, Ludwig Boltzmann-Institute for the Sociology of Health and Medicine, Vienna University
Roberto Lorbeer, University of Marburg

In a database covering all OECD members and the 20 largest non-OECD economies we look for a tradeoff between economic growth and population health. The data base contains parameters of private & public health and other expenditure, capital formation, GDP, longevity and health expectancy parameters, for at least the last 20 years. Intervening variables were the GINI coefficient of income distribution, and health inequality as measured by the coefficient of variation of life expectancy. Results: Economic growth was NOT associated with growth in life expectancy and vice versa. A higher GINI Coefficient predicted faster economic growth, a lower health inequality predicted faster lifespan growth. Public and private health expenditure positively predicted lifespan extension and negatively economic growth. Our findings contradict the more optimistic view, that investing in health is good for economic growth, as expressed by the OECD, UN, WHO, WORLDBANK over the last two decades.

Presented in Poster Session 1