Socioeconomic Differences in the Adoption of New Medical Technologies

15 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2005 Last revised: 7 Jul 2012

See all articles by Dana P. Goldman

Dana P. Goldman

RAND Corporation; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

James P. Smith

RAND Corporation; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: March 2005

Abstract

New medical technologies hold tremendous promise for improving population health, but they also raise concerns about exacerbating already large differences in health by socioeconomic status (SES). If effective treatments are more rapidly adopted by the better educated, SES health disparities may initially expand even though the health of those in all groups eventually improves. Hypertension provides a useful case study. It is an important risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease, the condition is relatively common, and there are large differences in rates of hypertension by education. This paper examines the short and long-term diffusion of two important classes of anti-hypertensives - ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers - over the last twenty-five years. Using three prominent medical surveys, we find no evidence that the diffusion of these drugs into medical practice favored one education group relative to another. The findings suggest that - at least for hypertension - SES differences in the adoption of new medical technologies are not an important reason for the SES health gradient.

Suggested Citation

Goldman, Dana P. and Smith, James P., Socioeconomic Differences in the Adoption of New Medical Technologies (March 2005). NBER Working Paper No. w11218. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=689399

Dana P. Goldman (Contact Author)

RAND Corporation ( email )

P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

James P. Smith

RAND Corporation ( email )

P.O. Box 2138
1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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