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01 Aug 2005

The Contribution of Health to the Economy of the European Union

Marc Suhrcke (WHO) / Martin McKee (LSHTM) / Regina Sauto Arce (CEPS) / Svetla Tsolova (CEPS) / Jørgen Mortensen

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Is health good for the economy of the European Union? This study reviews an extensive body of research and policy documents from high-income countries encompassing cost-of-illness studies; the impact of health at the individual and household level on labour market outcomes, education and saving; the impact of health on the level and the growth rate of national income; and the welfare impact of health. Based on the available evidence, the introductory question can be answered with a resounding ‘yes’: health is good for the economy in the European Union.
A key message of the publication is that better health can have a positive impact on various economic outcomes, and is not merely an automatic by-product of economic progress. This finding provides a critical implication for policy: policymakers interested in improving economic outcomes have a powerful justification to invest in health as one means to achieve their economic objectives. More research is needed in Europe to strengthen the empirical findings and to stimulate the debate and policy-making process to tackle much of the avoidable disease faced by the EU member states.

Published by DG SANCO of the European Commission

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