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What Is the Relationship between Health and Economic Development?

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  • Written By: Esther Ejim
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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The relationship between health and economic development can be measured by assessing the impact of health-related issues like rate of mortality, infant mortality, fertility, diseases and overall health in relation to their impact on human productivity. Human capital is one of the chief cornerstones of economic development, and any economy that is deficient in this vital component will suffer from the effects. A correlation between health and economic development can be seen in undeveloped countries with inadequate health care systems.

In such countries, a lack of basic health amenities like good hospitals and competent health care affects the ability of the citizens to produce at an optimal level. When remote areas lack good medicines for even simple diseases like malaria it affects the level of output, because those afflicted with the disease must miss work while they try to deal with its devastating effects. Indeed, the link between health and economic development in such areas is due to the poor economy and resultant poverty in which the citizens do not have the funds to gain access to competent health care, leading to possible needless deaths from completely curable diseases.

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Infant mortality is linked to health and economic development because a population with a high rate of infant mortality will not be able to sustain itself. The infants will someday grow up to become the chief labor force. When there is a higher than average rate of mortality among infants, the population will soon be skewed in a disproportionate ratio of older people versus younger ones, making it difficult for the younger people to sustain the larger number of older members in the society. This link between health and economic development can also be drawn from a lack of fertility among the women due to poor health policies. Such a factor can also cause a negative balance in the ratio of young versus old.

General good health among the members of a society is another factor concerning the effects of health and economic development. Healthy people are more productive and able to work than those who are sick. There is a loss of productivity due to sick workers taking days off to deal with their ill health. The combined loss of productive work hours affects the economy in the sense that it leads to a loss of revenue, affecting the economic development of the area.

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anon990026
Post 4

Does economic growth determine the development of a particular country?

ddljohn
Post 3

Infectious disease are a huge risk in developing countries. And I think this is a good example of the importance of health for economic development. Like the article said, something as easily preventable and treatable like Malaria takes many lives in some developing nations. Others are fighting much more severe illnesses like HIV. On one hand, poor health of people is affecting development negatively. On the other hand, people are ill because there isn't development. So the relationship goes both ways.

serenesurface
Post 2

@stoneMason-- Life expectancy is another factor that can be used to assess development. Countries that are economically developed have good health care systems which allows people to live longer.

So if the average life expectancy in a country is increasing over time, it's safe to assume that they have a good health care system and also economic development.

On the other hand, if life expectancy is remaining the same or decreasing, it's a sign of a poor economic system and lack of development. But researchers must also count for other factors like war and conflict which may skew results. But either way, countries in conflict suffer from poor economic development too.

stoneMason
Post 1

Aside from infant mortality, are there any other health indicators that researchers look at to get a sense of what the economic development is like in a country?

Of course infant mortality is debilitating for the economy because there won't be a large, young workforce in the future. But that's also an issue in some developed countries now where people are not giving birth as much as they used to.

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