Call for Papers

Macroeconomic Perspectives on the Value of Health
Cambridge, MA
November 8, 2019

Changes in population health, such as life expectancy, often move in tandem with measures of aggregate economic activity, such as real GDP per capita. There are multiple potential linkages, however, between health outcomes, real incomes, economic growth, and productivity, and limited evidence that distinguishes among alternative causal pathways. For example, economic growth can affect health, as higher incomes make it possible to purchase more health care and other health-enhancing goods and services, but a healthier population may also be an important input to economic growth. Improvements in population health are not reflected in standard measures of economic output, such as GDP. In part this reflects historical convention, and in part this reflects the measurement challenge of defining the economic value of health. Variation in health status within a population at a point in time is also omitted from the measures of income and wealth inequality that are usually reported. Including health measures could alter the measured degree of inequality.

To promote research on these issues, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will convene a conference to explore the relationships among aggregate growth, productivity, and health from various perspectives. The goals of the meeting are to assess current knowledge about these relationships, to summarize the state of measurement regarding the aggregate and distributional consequences of changing population health, and to identify promising directions for future research. The conference will be organized by NBER Research Associate Chad Syverson of the University of Chicago.

The conference program will include both empirical and theoretical research on all of these issues, as well as a panel discussion on research needs. Submissions of early stage and more advanced work, from scholars who are early in their careers, from those who are, and are not, NBER affiliates, and from researchers from under-represented groups are welcome. Research from a variety of different sub-fields within economics will be considered.

To be considered for inclusion on the program, papers must be uploaded by September 6, 2019 via the following link:

Complete papers are preferred, but extended abstracts may also be submitted. Papers that have been accepted for publication and will be published by November 2019 are not eligible for presentation. Authors chosen to present papers will be notified in mid-September 2019.

The conference will take place in Cambridge on Thursday, November 8, 2019. The NBER will cover the economy class travel and hotel expenses for two authors per paper and for discussants and panelists. Additional co-authors and other interested researchers, including graduate students who are working in this area, are welcome to attend as space permits. Questions about this conference may be addressed to

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