Research Topic

The Effect of Business Cycles on Population Health in the Emerging Economies

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World Health Organization’s Commission on Macroeconomics and Health clarified that health directly affects economic development through human capital (such as education, job training, physical and cognitive development) and corporate capital (how a company organizes the labor force and investment ...

World Health Organization’s Commission on Macroeconomics and Health clarified that health directly affects economic development through human capital (such as education, job training, physical and cognitive development) and corporate capital (how a company organizes the labor force and investment opportunities, while trying to balance debt and equity). Meanwhile, better health tends to stimulate economic growth, and in turn, economic growth encourages further accumulation of health capital. The positive correlation between these two is probably the most intuitive relation in the process of economic development, nevertheless, the role of business cycles on population health (mortality) is still ambiguous and controversial.

Despite being studied for the past century, why wealth improves population health, but economic recession declines mortality still remains a paradoxical effect of business cycles. Some researchers focused on epidemiologically-oriented mechanisms such as different individual health behaviors, and variability in the physical exertion of employment, job-related stress, and exposure to hazardous substances, while other scholars recommended the welfare compensation mechanism, which focuses on the trade-off between health improvement and wealth reduction. However, the influence of business cycles on population health is still unclear, because most of these findings were generated from high-income countries.

Due to the trend of globalization and market integration from regional economies, the emerging national economies such as the so-called BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), and Latin American countries have played an important role on the world economy. In contrast to the advanced economies, emerging nations have experienced a dramatic transition in demographics, politics, economics, and societal culture over the past two decades. This transition towards modern and advanced economies brings many challenges to healthcare systems that should mitigate the adverse effect on population health resulting from the economic fluctuations. Taking everything into account, we believe that there are significant gaps regarding the relationship between business cycles and population health for the emerging economies and we aim to investigate five important questions:

1. Are the evidences on the relationship between business cycles and population health (measured by life expectancy or various mortality and morbidity rates) generated from emerging economies only? Are there any policy implications from the international health perspective?
2. Is the impact of business cycles, obtained from individual data, in accordance with that obtained from aggregation data?
3. Are there any heterogeneous responses of health progress across different subgroups to an economic shock, indicating health inequalities?
4. Is there any difference between the short- and long-run effect of business cycles on population health? What kinds of interventions and how long the intervention program should last?
5. Is there any linkage between economic conditions (as measured by different states of the business cycle) around the time of birth and mortality and morbidity late in life?

Additional points of interest, which are welcome to be submitted, involve:
1.Macroeconomic Effect on Healthcare Utilization, and Healthcare Finance
2.Responses of Hospitals and Physician Behaviors to Business Cycles
3.Business Cycles and Healthcare Workforce Employment
4.Impact of Economic Fluctuation on Patient Safety and Healthcare Quality
5.Effect of Business Cycles on Health-related Risk Factors, Health Behaviors, and Outcomes
6.Effectiveness of Economic Stabilization Intervention on Population Health (Mortality)
7.Early Life Economic Conditions, Fetal Health and Late-Life Mortality


Keywords: health behaviors, fetal health, health-related risk factors, economic stabilization, economic intervention, patient safety, health inequalities, business cycles, emerging national economies, pro-cyclicality of mortality


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