Prof. Zimmermann is co-organizing a conference on the Macroeconomics of Health this week at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The study of health economics has traditionally been the realm of applied microeconomics. There is, however, an increasing awareness that health issues also have macroeconomic consequences. A prime example is the AIDS epidemic, which has fundamentally changed the labor market, as well as many other markets, in parts of Africa. Closer to home, the cost of health care is putting a new burden on governments and businesses; indeed, in his recent press conference, President Obama said that health care reform was at the forefront of economic and public policy. Also, demographic changes can change households’ saving behavior to a point of affecting capital accumulation and thus growth.
The conference seeks to build new synergies between macroeconomics and health economics, first by assembling the macroeconomists working on health issues, second by encouraging interaction with traditional health economists. The covered topics are broad, from the impact of tropical diseases on developing economies to health care reform in the United States.
For more details about the conference, see the UCSB Laboratory for Aggregate Economics and Finance.