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Health is good for the economy

In countries where the general state of health of the population is not good, this also contributes to poor economic development, just as investments in basic health interventions would produce growth. These considerations are valid for poor countries, as a Commission on Macroeconomics and Health focused them in 2001 in Geneva, which however did not assess the situation in relation to rich countries: but even in the latter, general health can be an economic driver. This is what the authors of a study carried out for the European Commission, presented in 2005, and relating precisely to opulent nations, recall in a comment on the BMJ.

Four main mechanisms
The starting point is the role it has with respect to development, the well-identified correlation existing between per capita income and health status, notoriously in the direction that goes from the former to the latter, given that better well-being involves greater access to quality health goods and services, healthy food and clean water, and better hygienic conditions. But an inverse relationship is also emerging, i.e. from health to higher income, for which four main mechanisms can be identified, consisting of productivity, education, investment in physical capital, "demographic dividend". First, healthy populations tend to be more productive at work, due to better physical and mental health, fewer absences, and less need to care for sick family members; second, healthier, long-lived people are interested in developing their skills to reap their long-term benefits, and higher education leads to higher incomes, while good health contributes to school attendance and learning. Third, longer life creates an increased need for retirement savings, and more savings lead to more investment and earnings; fourth, the decline in infant mortality gradually leads to a proportional increase in people of working age which can raise per capita income, provided that everyone is absorbed into the labor market.

Aspects to evaluate
These four mechanisms may constitute plausible explanations of growth, although it is not easy to determine how much they act in reality. For example, various pieces of evidence show that in rich countries healthy people earn more, if considered as such on the basis of indirect health parameters such as greater height or lower body mass index, which however may be linked more to social acceptability than to productivity. Moving from an individual to a collective level, it appears that much of the opulence of nations is due to the health of the population. A study in ten industrialized countries showed that improved health increased economic growth by about 30% in the century to the mid-1990s. When measuring health by life expectancy, this appeared to be very evident in poor countries, sometimes more so than improvements in education, while for rich ones there are more significant measures, such as the reduction in cardiovascular mortality, which in an analysis of 26 developed nations for the period 1960-2000 was found to be highly predictive of economic growth (in one model, a 10% decline in the former is associated with an 1% increase in per capita income). Raising the retirement age in parallel with lengthening life expectancy should also mitigate the economic consequences for aging populations. In any case, both Governments and European institutions will have to evaluate in mo

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Fedaiisf Federazione delle Associazioni Italiane degli Informatori Scientifici del Farmaco e del Parafarmaco