Social Indicators Research

, Volume 117, Issue 1, pp 121–143 | Cite as

Is Health Wealth? Results of a Panel Data Analysis

  • Zakir HusainEmail author
  • Mousumi Dutta
  • Nidhi Chowdhary


The objective of this paper is to determine whether health (measured by life expectancy at birth) contributes to economic growth and the functional form in which it influences per capita income. This links our study to the debate between neo-classical and endogenous growth theorists on whether investment in human capital can sustain growth indefinitely. Data on 216 countries for the period 1980–2009 has been obtained from World Development Indicators dataset. This enables us to focus on a period characterized by globalization and demographic transition manifested in the form of population graying. Our findings confirm the importance of investment in human capital. But, in contrast to conclusions of endogenous growth models, we find evidence that benefit from increasing longevity tapers off. We conclude by pointing out that it is necessary to extend this study further by incorporating other dimensions of health that are not captured by life expectancy.


Life expectancy Human capital Endogenous growth models Neo-classical growth models Panel data 



The authors would like to express their gratitude to two anonymous reviewers, Caspar Worm Hansen, Department of Economics, University of Southern Denmark, Ankush Aggarwal and, particularly, Arup Mitra, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi, for their comments and suggestions. The authors are responsible for the remaining errors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Population Research Centre, Institute of Economic GrowthDelhi University EnclaveDelhiIndia
  2. 2.Economics DepartmentPresidency UniversityKolkataIndia
  3. 3.Indian Credit Rating Agency TechnoAnalytics LtdKolkataIndia

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