Health and Wealth Disparities in the United States

  • Title:

    Health and Wealth Disparities in the United States
  • Format:

    Paperback
  • Paperback Price:

    27.95
  • Paperback ISBN:

    978-0-8447-4389-9
  • Paperback Dimensions:

    6" x 9"
  • 76 Paperback pages
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Traditional measures of economic disparities among Americans of different race, gender, geographic location, and education level consider only material well-being, so that making two groups economically "equal" is as simple as matching their monetary incomes. This narrow focus on income may not, however, lead to a complete understanding of economic prosperity in the United States. Differences in health and longevity are also important dimensions of a population’s overall well-being.

In this volume, Anupam B. Jena, Tomas J. Philipson, and Eric C. Sun formally incorporate the effects of health into an analysis of economic disparities in America from 1940 to 2000. They find that accounting for the value of health dramatically affects our understanding of wealth levels across groups--particularly across races. The income levels of blacks and whites followed a convergent trend until the 1970s, after which the rate of convergence slowed and even reversed slightly, suggesting that blacks’ rate of economic progress has dwindled. However, when health gains are incorporated, the picture changes significantly. Black men and women made much faster improvements in health than white men and women over this sixty-year period. Therefore, although black and white incomes have not converged fully, the overall disparity decreases when health is incorporated into the analysis.

Jena, Philipson, and Sun conclude that even if income disparities remain vast across groups, disparities in general welfare may be shrinking as minorities and poorer populations see significant improvements in health--a finding that has important policy implications for the design of programs aimed at equalizing income across the U.S. population.

Anupam B. Jena, MD, PhD, is a medical resident in the Department of Internal Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and a visiting fellow at the Bing Center for Health Economics at the RAND Corporation.

Tomas J. Philipson, PhD, is the Daniel Levin Professor of Public Policy Studies at the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies and previously served as senior economic advisor to the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (2004–05) and to the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2003–04).

Eric C. Sun, MD, PhD, is a resident in the Department of Anesthesiology at Stanford University and a visiting fellow at the Bing Center for Health Economics at the RAND Corporation.

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About the Author

 

Tomas J.
Philipson
  • Tomas J. Philipson is a visiting scholar at AEI and the Daniel Levin Chair in the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy as well as an associate member of the department of economics at the University of Chicago. He was a senior health care adviser to the 2008 presidential campaign of John McCain and served in the Bush administration as the senior economic adviser to the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration from 2003 to 2004 and subsequently as the senior economic adviser to the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services from 2004 to 2005. Mr. Philipson is an editor of Forum for Health Economics & Policy and is on the editorial board of Health Economics and The European Journal of Health Economics. He has twice been the recipient of the highest honor of his field, the Kenneth Arrow Award from the International Health Economics Association, in 2000 and 2006.  Mr. Philipson is the cofounder of Precision Health Economics, is an adviser to the Gerson Lehrman Group, and is a consultant for Compass-Lexecon and Analysis Group.
  • Email: t-philipson@uchicago.edu

 

Anupam B.
Jena
  • Anupam B. Jena, M.D., Ph.D. is an assistant professor of health care policy and medicine at Harvard Medical School and an assistant physician in the Department of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he practices general inpatient medicine and teaches medical residents.


    Dr. Jena's research involves several areas of health economics and policy including medical malpractice, the economics of medical innovation and cost-effectiveness, geographic variation in medical care, and insurance benefit design. Using unique data from a nationwide professional liability insurer, Dr. Jena's work on malpractice has provided new estimates of medical malpractice risk according to physician specialty, the costs of defending malpractice claims, and outcomes of malpractice claims undergoing litigation.

  • Email: jena@hcp.med.harvard.edu

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