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Does Better Health Lead to Better Wealth?
Date:6/23/2008

COPENHAGEN and TALLINN, June 23 /PRNewswire/ --

- European Health Ministers Meet to Focus on Link Between Health and Economic Success. New Charter on Health Systems Expected to be Signed

It has long been accepted that greater wealth allows people to make better health choices, but does the reverse apply? Does greater health lead to greater wealth, both on a personal and a national level?

This week (25-27 June), ministers of health, international experts, and over 500 delegates from the 53 countries (1) of the WHO European Region will meet in Tallinn - at the WHO European Ministerial Conference on Health Systems: "Health Systems, Health and Wealth" - to discuss a new paradigm for health systems. They will examine the existing evidence on the relationship between health and wealth.

Studies in the WHO European Region show that rises in life expectancy are clearly matched by improvements in economic performance. Between 1970 and 2003 in the western part of the Region, increases in life expectancy were "worth" 29-38% of gross domestic product (GDP) and far exceeded each country's health expenditures. In the eastern part of the Region, the relationship is even clearer: between 1990 and 2003, countries that experienced a reduction in life expectancy incurred welfare losses of 16-31%, while those that saw life expectancy rise realized benefits of 12-31% of GDP.

A German study, covering 1995-2005, found that a 10% increase in health satisfaction enhanced women's hourly wages by about 0.14-0.47% and men's by about 0.09-0.88%. A 2006 survey of 26 affluent countries, covering 1960-2000, found that a 10% reduction in cardiovascular mortality was associated with a one percentage point increase in the annual growth of per capita income. In a recent study of the Russian Federation, good health (compared to less good health) was found to increase wages by 22% for women and 18% for men.

Three reports on how ill health can be an economi
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SOURCE World Health Organization (WHO)
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