NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Health and the Economy in the United States, from 1750 to the Present

Dora Costa

NBER Working Paper No. 19685
Issued in November 2013
NBER Program(s):   AG   CH   DAE   HC   HE

I discuss the health transition in the United States, bringing new data to bear on health indicators, and investigating the changing relationship between health, income, and the environment. I argue that scientific advances played an outsize role and that health improvements were largest among the poor. Health improvements were not a precondition for modern economic growth. The gains to health are largest when the economy has moved from “brawn” to “brains” because this is when the wage returns to education are high, leading the healthy to obtain more education. More education may improve use of health knowledge, producing a virtuous cycle.

download in pdf format
   (689 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 (689 K) or via email.

An online appendix is available for this publication.

This paper was revised on June 7, 2014

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19685

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Bleakley, Costa, and Lleras-Muney w19162 Health, Education and Income in the United States, 1820-2000
Zinman w19682 Consumer Credit: Too Much or Too Little (or Just Right)?
Chandra, Holmes, and Skinner w19700 Is This Time Different? The Slowdown in Healthcare Spending
Egan and Philipson w19280 International Health Economics
Gaynor, Ho, and Town w19800 The Industrial Organization of Health Care Markets
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

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

Contact Us