Health Care Expenditure and Income: A Global Perspective

Health Econ. 2017 Jul;26(7):863-874. doi: 10.1002/hec.3424. Epub 2016 Sep 29.


This paper investigates the long-run economic relationship between healthcare expenditure and income in the world using data on 167 countries over the period 1995-2012, collected from the World Bank data set. The analysis is carried using panel data methods that allow one to account for unobserved heterogeneity, temporal persistence, and cross-section dependence in the form of either a common factor model or a spatial process. We estimate a global measure of income elasticity using all countries in the sample, and for sub-groups of countries, depending on their geo-political area and income. Our findings suggest that at the global level, health care is a necessity rather than a luxury. However, results vary greatly depending on the sub-sample analysed. Our findings seem to suggest that size of income elasticity depends on the position of different countries in the global income distribution, with poorer countries showing higher elasticity. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Keywords: exploring the geography of health; health expenditure; income elasticity; panels; world.

MeSH terms

  • Developed Countries
  • Developing Countries
  • Global Health*
  • Gross Domestic Product / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Models, Econometric*
  • Risk Factors