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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Harvard: The Relationship Between Health Spending and Social Spending – A Surprising Finding

In a paper published in Health Affairs, researchers from the Harvard Global Health Institute a surprising finding: There appears to be a strong, positive relationship between social and healthcare spending. That is, countries that spend more on social programs also end up spending more on health care.

This finding — by Drs. Irene Papanicolas, Ashish K. Jha, Liana Woskie and others — is at odds with a commonly believed narrative that when countries spend less on social services, they end up spending more on healthcare. The reasoning is that when countries underinvest in social spending they fail to address the underlying causes of illness, which leads to a sicker population that spends more money on healthcare.

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