The Diffusion of Health Technologies: Cultural and Biological Divergence
Casper Worm Hansen
Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business; Netspar
This paper proposes the hypothesis that genetic distance to the health frontier influences population health outcomes. Evidence from a world sample suggests that genetic distance, interpreted as long-term cultural and biological divergence, is an important factor in understanding health inequalities across countries. In particular, the paper documents a remarkably robust negative link between genetic distance to the United States and population health --- as measured by life expectancy at birth and the adult survival rate --- even after accounting for an extensive set of possible confounders, such as GDP per capita and various climatic factors. Consistent with the interpretation that genetic distance is related to population health indirectly through human barriers to the diffusion of modern health technologies, the evidence indicates that the gene gradient emerges at the onset of the international epidemiological transition.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Keywords: Population health, Medical Technologies, Barrier effect, Long-term divergence
JEL Classification: I15, J10, O11, O33working papers series
Date posted: June 21, 2011 ; Last revised: April 16, 2013
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