The public vs. private value of health, and their relationship [Book Review]

Journal of Economic Methodology 24 (3):349-355 (2017)
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Abstract

We sometimes wonder how health is distributed in our society. We may also want to know about the efficiency of different health programmes. Which public measures promise the greatest overall improvements in health? It can be hard to know how to go about answering questions like these, in large part because the varieties of ill health are heterogeneous, as are their consequences. The solution that health economists have long adopted is to appeal to summary or generic measures of health, such as the QALY, which attempt to put all types of ill health on the same scale. Daniel Hausman works from the assumption that we have reason to want a scalar measure like the QALY. He subjects existing techniques for generating such measures to a thorough critique, ultimately concluding that significant methodological changes are needed.

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S. Andrew Schroeder
Claremont McKenna College

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