Thursday, March 22, 2018

Does Medical Expansion Improve Population Health?

Does Medical Expansion Improve Population Health?

Hui Zheng, Linda K. George

First Published February 1, 2018


Medical expansion has become a prominent dynamic in today’s societies as the biomedical model becomes increasingly dominant in the explanation of health, illness, and other human problems and behavior. Medical expansion is multidimensional and represented by expansions in three major components of the healthcare system: increasing medical investment, medical professionalization/specialization, and the relative size of the pharmaceutical industry. Using Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development health data and World Development Indicators 1981 to 2007, we find medical investment and medical professionalization/specialization significantly improve all three measures of life expectancy and decrease mortality rate even after controlling for endogeneity problems. In contrast, an expanded pharmaceutical industry is negatively associated with female life expectancy at age 65 and positively associated with the all-cause mortality rate. It further compromises the beneficial effect of medical professionalization/specialization on population health. In general, medical professionalization/specialization and gross domestic product per capita have similar and stronger effects than medical investment.

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