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GARY BECKER’S CONTRIBUTIONS IN HEALTH ECONOMICS

  • Rodrigo R. Soares (a1)
Abstract

Gary Becker's contributions to health economics started somewhat indirectly. The early development in human capital theory, to which Becker was one of the main contributors, had obvious implications to the analysis of expenditures on health, but were almost exclusively focused on schooling and training (Schultz 1960; Becker 1962, 1964). Human capital theory advanced the idea that actions that imply present costs but enhanced individual productivity in the future could be seen as investments in a form of capital. Expenditures in health had many dimensions where such trade-offs were present. A good diet or exercising might not be very much fun, but potentially delivered long-term benefits in the form of a longer and healthier life. Preventive medical care demanded time and money, but might also improve future health prospects. This was recognized early on (Mushkin, 1962), but the first explorations of health as human capital were conceptually timid and did not give the field a push that remotely resembled that received by the economic research on education. For the years that followed, health economics persisted mostly as a field dealing with the analysis of health systems and delivery of health technologies.

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G. S. Becker (1962) Investment in human capital: a theoretical analysis. Journal of Political Economy 70 (5), part 2, 949.

G. S. Becker (2007) Health as human capital: synthesis and extensions. Oxford Economic Papers 59 (3), 379410.

G. S. Becker and K. M. Murphy (1988) A theory of rational addiction. Journal of Political Economy 96 (4), 675700.

G. S. Becker , K. M. Murphy , and R. Tamura (1990) Human capital, fertility, and economic growth. Journal of Political Economy 98 (2), S12–S70.

G. S. Becker , T. J. Philipson , and R. R. Soares (2005) The quantity and quality of life and the evolution of world inequality. American Economic Review 95 (1), 277291.

G. S. Becker and N. Tomes (1976) Child endowments and the quantity and quality of children. Journal of Political Economy 84 (4), Part 2, S143–S162.

I. Ehrlich and G. S. Becker (1972) Market insurance, self-insurance, and self-protection. Journal of Political Economy 80 (4), 623648.

M. Grossman (1972) On the concept of health capital and the demand for health. Journal of Political Economy 80 (2), 223255.

M. Grossman (2004) The demand for health, 30 years later: a very personal retrospective and prospective reflection. Journal of Health Economics 23 (4), 629636.

S. J. Mushkin (1962) Health as an investment. Journal of Political Economy 70 (5), Part 2: Investment in Human Beings, 129157.

T. J. Philipson and G. S. Becker (1998) Old-age longevity and mortality-contingent claims. Journal of Political Economy 106 (3), 551573.

T. W. Schultz (1960) Capital formation by education. Journal of Political Economy 68 (6), 571583.

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Journal of Demographic Economics
  • ISSN: 2054-0892
  • EISSN: 2054-0906
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-demographic-economics
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