SA4N7: The Economics of Health and Wellbeing

This course introduces students to the economics of health and wellbeing. Focus is on the health or wellbeing production function, and the related economics literature. In particular, the course covers how health and wellbeing are measured in the literature and factors that determine these outcomes. Attention is paid to defining what a causal effect is and specifying an appropriate health production function. In this regard the student can expect to become familiar with some basic econometrics. In addition, the course reviews the main determinants of physical health, including inequality. (Un)healthy behaviours are also covered, including drug taking, obesity and smoking. Some attention is paid to the role of peer effects in this regard.

The course also covers well-being, income comparisons and the Easterlin Paradox. This component is taken by Andrew Clark.

Overall, students taking this course can expect to gain insight as to the challenges faced by policy makers in altering the health and wellbeing outcomes of a nation. Students also gain some insight into policies that are likely to be the most fruitful. Students become more familiar with a literature that considers individual health and wellbeing.


This course will be a combination of lectures- where students learn theory- and seminars- where students apply what they have learned.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 exercise in the ST.

Indicative reading

Main Readings:


1. Mastering ‘Metrics: The Path from Cause to Effect (2014) by Joshua D. Angrist, Jörn-Steffen Pischke;


1. Healthy Bodies and Thick Wallets: The Dual Relation between Health and Economic Status James P. Smith The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Spring, 1999), pp. 145-166;

2. Preston, S. H (1975). “The Changing Relation between Mortality and Level of Economic Development”. Population Studies 29 (2): 231–248.);

3. “Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles” Andrew Clarke, Paul Frijters and Mike Shields, Journal of Economic Literature, (March 2008), Vol.46, no.1, pp.95-144.

4. “Happy House: Spousal Weight and Individual Well-Being”, Andrew Clarke and Fabrice Etilé, Journal of Health Economics, (2011), Vol.30, no.5, pp. 1124-1136;

5. Johnston, David W. and Lordan, Grace (2012) Discrimination makes me sick! An examination of the discrimination–health relationship Journal of Health Economics, 31 (1). 99-111. ISSN 0167-6296.


Take home exam (100%) in the MT.

The exam will be take home. Formative feedback will be provided on a piece of work similar to this.