How prioritizing health could help rebuild economies

До пандемии COVID-19 здоровье не было частью повестки при обсуждении экономического роста. Политические дебаты часто фокусировались на контроле расходов на здравоохранение. Пандемия дала миру уникальную возможность поставить здоровье во главу угла. Делимся в рамках спецпроекта «CoronaWorldImpact»


The COVID-19 pandemic has given the world a once-in-a-generation opportunity to advance broad-based health and prosperity.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, health typically wasn’t part of economic-growth discussions: the policy debate often focused on controlling healthcare costs. Our yearlong research effort, culminating in the publication of Prioritizing health: A prescription for prosperity, shows that this focus misses the bigger picture. Informed forecasts suggest that the pandemic and its effects will cost the global economy up to 8 percent of real GDP in 2020.1 Yet each year, poor health costs twice as much—around 15 percent of global real GDP from premature deaths and lost productive potential among the working-age population. As organizations around the world look for tools to speed up economic recovery, rethinking health as an investment, not just a cost, could accelerate growth for decades to come.

Four lessons from the pandemic show how to build a healthier and more prosperous future.

1. Make health a key part of economic-growth discussions

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unwelcome reminder of just how much health matters not only to individuals and society but also to the global economy. Better health fueled global growth over the past century by enlarging the labor force and increasing productivity. In fact, economic historians estimate that improved health accounted for about one-third of the overall GDP-per-capita growth of developed economies in the past century.2 Our research shows that health continues to have the potential to stimulate growth.

How exactly does better health promote economic growth? First, fewer people are likely to die prematurely, so the working-age population will increase. When people are healthier, absences from sickness decline, and workers are less distracted by managing their own conditions or those of their loved ones. Also, fewer workers retire early because of health conditions.

We sized the economic impact of better health and found that it could add $12 trillion to global GDP in 2040—an 8 percent boost, or 0.4 percent a year faster growth. These gains could not only help the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic but also, over the longer term, counter demographic headwinds from an aging population.

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