Accounting for the Effect of Health on Economic Growth

David N. Weil

NBER Working Paper No. 11455
Issued in July 2005
NBER Program(s):   EFG   HE

I use microeconomic estimates of the effect of health on individual outcomes to construct macroeconomic estimates of the proximate effect of health on GDP per capita. I employ avariety of methods to construct estimates of the return to health, which I combine with cross-country and historical data on height, adult survival rates, and age at menarche. Using my preferred estimate, eliminating health differences among countries would reduce the variance oflog GDP per worker by 9.9 percent, and reduce the ratio of GDP per worker at the 90th percentileto GDP per worker at the 10th percentile from 20.5 to 17.9. While this effect is economically significant, it is also substantially smaller than estimates of the effect of health on economic growth that are derived from cross-country regressions.

download in pdf format
   (334 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

This paper is available as PDF (334 K) or via email.

This paper was revised on January 29, 2007

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11455

Published: David N. Weil, 2007. "Accounting for The Effect of Health on Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1265-1306, 08. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Greenstein and McDevitt w14758 The Broadband Bonus: Accounting for Broadband Internet's Impact on U.S. GDP
Laux and Leuz w15515 Did Fair-Value Accounting Contribute to the Financial Crisis?
Ashraf, Lester, and Weil When Does Improving Health Raise GDP?
Fogel w4638 Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy
Hulten w15341 Growth Accounting
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us