Two Hundred Years of Health and Medical Care: The Importance of Medical Care for Life Expectancy Gains

80 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2018

See all articles by Maryaline Catillon

Maryaline Catillon

Harvard University

David M. Cutler

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Thomas E. Getzen

Temple University - Dept of Risk, Insurance & Health Management

Date Written: December 2018

Abstract

Using two hundred years of national and Massachusetts data on medical care and health, we examine how central medical care is to life expectancy gains. While common theories about medical care cost growth stress growing demand, our analysis highlights the importance of supply side factors, including the major public investments in research, workforce training and hospital construction that fueled a surge in spending over the 1955-1975 span. There is a stronger case that personal medicine affected health in the second half of the twentieth century than in the preceding 150 years. Finally, we consider whether medical care productivity decreases over time, and find that spending increased faster than life expectancy, although the ratio stabilized in the past two decades.

Suggested Citation

Catillon, Maryaline and Cutler, David M. and Getzen, Thomas E., Two Hundred Years of Health and Medical Care: The Importance of Medical Care for Life Expectancy Gains (December 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w25330. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3298709

David M. Cutler

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center, Room 315A
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-5216 (Phone)
617-495-8570 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-868-3900 (Phone)
617-868-2742 (Fax)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Thomas E. Getzen

Temple University - Dept of Risk, Insurance & Health Management ( email )

712 Cornelia Place
Philadelphia, PA 19118
United States
215 688-2233 (Phone)

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