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Meet Seetha Menon

How can we reduce social inequality in health? This is what Seetha Menon, an Associate Professor at the Department of Economics, has set out to do in her research. More specifically, she examines the gender differences in healthcare utilization and health behaviour. Learn more about her research and visions in this interview.

What are your research interests?

I am an empirical economist with research interests in health economics, a field that has profoundly contributed to our understanding of the determinants of health, and the economic consequences of ill-health.

Thus far, my research has examined these determinants and consequences across different countries and in various domains such as cardiovascular risk, domestic violence, survival expectations, child mortality, and job quality. In effect, I specialise in the creative use of applied econometric methods to inform health policy, to anticipate, and to effectively respond to real world challenges.

How did you become interested in your field of research?

I have always been keen to find solutions to minimise social inequalities, possibly fuelled by the intricacies of growing up in an Indian household within an Islamic country. Over the course of my academic journey, this developed into a fascination with health inequalities combined with a passion for data driven real-world evidence.

What research question would you above all like to find the answer to? And why is that?

The average Danish woman outlives their male counterparts by close to half a decade. Yet, despite a survival advantage, at older ages, women tend to be in worse health than men. This phenomenon is called the male-female health-survival paradox and despite decades of research, the social determinants of this paradox remain unknown. My current research agenda investigates this paradox by estimating gender differences in healthcare utilization and health behaviour.

This project, generously funded by Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF), is poised to support Danish national objectives of increased patient involvement, more healthy life years, and a more effective healthcare system.

Which impact do you expect the Talent Track will have on your career and on your research field in general?

The Talent Track provides me with a unique opportunity to develop my research and leadership competencies in support of my excellence objective, which is to secure funding through an elite grant within the next 3 years. It does this by providing invaluable resources in the form of data, research assistance, scientific and leadership training.

The Talent Track also acts as a forum to connect with mentors regionally, and it provides opportunities to strengthen my network by supporting research visits to international collaborators and conferences. Consecutively, the Talent Track also backs my career objective of becoming an academic leader in the field of health economics and qualifying for a full professorship.

Which impact do you expect your research to have on the surrounding society?

Insights from my research is poised to contribute to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in particular UN SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being and UN SDG 5: Gender Equality.

My work will contribute to our understanding of the determinants of longer lives, and more importantly healthy ageing, which is indispensable for the increasingly ageing societies in Europe. Minimising health inequalities also has positive contagion effects on other important questions facing societies; for example, healthy people have the potential for longer labor market productivity, thereby my research can directly contribute to the ongoing efforts to keep men and women in the workforce for longer.

Seetha Menon

Seetha Menon is an Associate Professor at the Department of Economics and and the Interdisciplinary Centre on Population Dynamics.


Editing was completed: 08.11.2022