Postmodern health economics

Health Care Anal. 1999;7(3):255-72. doi: 10.1023/A:1009400926449.


Postmodernism and health economics are both concerned with questions about choices and values, risk and uncertainty. Postmodernists seek to respond to such questions in the context of a world of uncoordinated and often contradictory chances, a world devoid of clear-cut standards. Health economics seeks to respond using the constructs of modernity, including the application of reason to generate better order. In this article we present two sorts of voice. First we introduce postmodernism and those seeking to contribute to economics from a postmodern perspective. Second, we consider critics of a prevalent neo-classicism within health economics both from outside that paradigm and from those more closely associated with it. It is increasingly evident that (health) economics, as presently constituted, is failing both in its descriptive powers and its prescriptive possibilities. Postmodernism offers not just an alternative theoretical approach but the possibility of both expanding the scope of health economics and grounding it more appropriately in the everyday experience of those engaging with health systems.

MeSH terms

  • Causality
  • Community Health Planning
  • Decision Making
  • Developed Countries
  • Ethics
  • Female
  • Feminism
  • Health Care Rationing / economics*
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Models, Economic*
  • Morals
  • Philosophy, Medical
  • Power, Psychological
  • Social Welfare / economics