Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 14 No. 2 (Spring 2000)


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Health Care for the Aging Baby Boom: Lessons from Abroad

Article Citation

Reinhardt, UweE. 2000. "Health Care for the Aging Baby Boom: Lessons from Abroad." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14(2): 71-83.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.14.2.71


The economic, social, and political challenges posed by the aging of the population are real in many nations, under virtually any set of assumptions about the future. However, cross-national data on health spending on the elderly, to be presented in the following section, suggest that in health care this challenge appears to be manageable, as long as the nation's health system is being managed smartly. Unfortunately, Americans tend to be unimpressed by cross-national comparisons of health systems, apparently on the axiom that American health care is so vastly superior to that anywhere else on the globe as to render any cross-national comparison irrelevant for American health policy. In deference to that sentiment, the cross-national data presented here are supplemented with data on intra-U.S. variation in health spending on the elderly. Jointly, these cross-national and intranational data suggest that, in the United States, the economic burden of providing health care for the aging baby boom generation is amplified by a poorly managed and needlessly expensive health system.

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Reinhardt, Uwe E. (Princeton U)

JEL Classifications

I11: Analysis of Health Care Markets
I18: Health: Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
J14: Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped


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