NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Secular Trends in Physiological Capital: Implications for Equity in Health Care

Robert W. Fogel

NBER Working Paper No. 9771
Issued in June 2003
NBER Program(s):   AG   DAE

Over the past three centuries there has been a rapid accumulation of physiological capital in OECD countries. Enhanced physiological capital is tied to long-term reduction in environmental hazards and to the conquest of chronic malnutrition. Data on heights and birth weights suggests that physiological capital has become more equally distributed, thereby reducing socioeconomic disparities in the burden of disease. Implications for health care policy are: (1) enhanced physiological capital has done more to reduce inequities in health status than has wider access to health care; (2) the main contribution of more advanced medical treatment so far has been to retard depreciation in individuals' physiological capital; (3) prenatal and early childhood care and environmental issues are key for interventions aimed at enhancing physiological capital and at affecting its rate of depreciation; (4) lifestyle change is the most important issue affecting health equity in rich countries; and (5) greater access to clinical care should be promoted through aggressive outreach, since expanded insurance coverage by itself is inadequate.

download in pdf format
   (209 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 (209 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9771

Published: Fogel, Robert W. "Secular trends in physiological capital: Implications for equity in health care." Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 46 (suppl.) (2003): S24-S38.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Fogel w4638 Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy
Fogel w13184 Capitalism and Democracy in 2040: Forecasts and Speculations
Fogel w11233 Changes in the Physiology of Aging during the Twentieth Century
Fogel w9941 Changes in the Process of Aging During the Twentieth Century: Findings and Procedures of the Early Indicators Project
Fogel h0026 New Sources and New Techniques for the Study of Secular Trends in Nutritional Status, Health, Mortality, and the Process of Aging
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
Data
People
About

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

Contact Us