Ethics and Social Value Judgments in Public Health

Ng N.Y., and Ruger J.P. Ethics and Social Value Judgments in Public Health. In: Anthony J. Culyer (ed.), Encyclopedia of Health Economics, Vol 1. San Diego: Elsevier; 2014. pp. 287-291.

6 Pages Posted: 21 May 2014

See all articles by Jennifer Prah Ruger

Jennifer Prah Ruger

University of Pennsylvania - School of Social Policy & Practice; University of Pennsylvania - Perelman School of Medicine

Nora Y. Ng

Yale University

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

Public health, unlike medicine, is not about doctors treating individual patients. Public health is about population health. It is a collective social effort to promote health and prevent diseases – both communicable and noncommunicable – and disability that involves population surveillance, regulation of determinants of health (such as food safety and sanitation), and the provision of key health services with an emphasis on prevention. Because private actors lack sufficient incentive and ability to undertake population-wide measures, public health is a vital resource for which government is the crucial provider, enabled by its police powers and its ability to regulate, tax, and spend. The exercise of government powers for the health of its population raises ethical issues, such as public welfare, individual autonomy and freedom, privacy and confidentiality, just distribution of benefits and burdens, transparency, and public accountability. These ethical concerns sometimes conflict, pitting values against one another. How they should be balanced will vary on a case-by-case basis. This article dis- cusses justifications for government action in public health, the tension between individual freedom and public health, issues of distributive justice in public health, and ethical guidelines for public health policymaking.

Keywords: public health, ethics, social value, freedom, distributive justice, health policy

JEL Classification: I10, I18, I31

Suggested Citation

Prah Ruger, Jennifer and Ng, Nora Y., Ethics and Social Value Judgments in Public Health (2014). Ng N.Y., and Ruger J.P. Ethics and Social Value Judgments in Public Health. In: Anthony J. Culyer (ed.), Encyclopedia of Health Economics, Vol 1. San Diego: Elsevier; 2014. pp. 287-291., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2439055

Jennifer Prah Ruger (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - School of Social Policy & Practice ( email )

3701 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6214
United States

University of Pennsylvania - Perelman School of Medicine

423 Guardian Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Nora Y. Ng

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
376
Abstract Views
1,222
rank
86,005
PlumX Metrics