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Contributions to the History of Health Economics

Editors of special issue: Philip Clarke (University of Melbourne) and Guido Erreygers (University of Antwerp)

Expression of interest: November 15th 2016.

Notification by the editors: December 15th 2016.

Deadline for submission: July 15th 2017.

Planned publication of the issue: 2018.

Nowadays, health economics is a thriving sub-discipline of economics. The field has its own specialised journals, conferences and academic programmes. The results of applied health economics research are used intensively both by the medical sector and by public policy makers.

The origins of health economics are usually traced to three seminal contributions. Selma Mushkin’s 1962 paper “Health as an investment” focused on the role of health in human capital formation. Kenneth Arrow’s 1963 paper “Uncertainty and the welfare economics of medical care” has shaped the way health economists think about the market for health care. And Michael Grossman’s 1972 paper “On the concept of health capital and the demand for health” laid the foundations of the influential health capital model.

But the history of health economics goes further than that. Economists, social researchers, epidemiologists and many others have analysed topics at the intersection of medicine and economics. How should health insurance be organised? How do we calculate the value of life in the context of cost-benefit analysis? What is the role of health organisations? Many of these issues have not received much attention by historians of economic thought.

The aim of this special issue of Œconomia is to gather contributions which present original insights into the history of health economics. No limitations are imposed with regard to period of time, issue or approach. Papers based on archival research or highlighting forgotten contributions will be greatly appreciated.

A non-exhaustive list of topics that could be explored includes:

  • Debates among 19th and early 20th century economists as to the factors contributing to infant mortality

  • Methods of valuation of life and health outcomes.

  • Economic approaches to outcomes and efficiency.

  • The economics of health organisations.

  • The influence of related disciplines, such as operations research, on health economics.

Researchers are invited to express their interest by sending an email to at the latest by November 15th 2016. They should indicate the main theme of their contribution by providing a provisional title and a 200-word abstract. Invitations for submitting contributions will be notified by December 15th 2016. The deadline for submission of the full paper is July 15th 2017.


Mushkin, Selma J. 1962. Health as an Investment. Journal of Political Economy, 70(5): 129-157.

Arrow, Kenneth J. 1963. Uncertainty and the Welfare Economics of Medical Care. American Economic Review, 53(5): 941-973.

Grossman, Michael. 1972. On the Concept of health Capital and the Demand for Health. Journal of Political Economy, 80(2): 223-255.

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