The strategic initiative HeWI (Health, Wealth and Inequality)

Vision:  In 2016, we established an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Max-Planck Odense Center on the Biodemography of Aging (MaxO)Historical Economics and Development Group (HEDG) and Center of Health Economics Research (COHERE). The vision is to turn this collaboration into a truly, excellent and unique research unit across the Department of Business & Economics and faculties. The ambition is to produce excellent research, which is publishable in the most prestigious journals, has relevance to society and ultimately helps inform policy. In accordance with the objectives of the faculty, this strategic initiative strongly emphasizes the importance and the need for interdisciplinary research when addressing the most challenging and ambitious research problems.

 Common Research Agenda: Has the world become a richer, healthier and fairer place to live?  Inspired by recent Nobel laureate Angus Deaton, our aspiration is to study this research question by thinking about wealth, health and inequality within the same unified framework.  It is well researched that as the economy of a country improves, so does the health of its citizens. What is less understood is whether the opposite is also true – improving national health may result in economic growth and improved wealth through a variety of channels, e.g. there will be more people able to conduct effective activities in the work force. The main research ambition is to carefully analyze the historical and ongoing patterns behind the health and wealth of individuals and nations in order to identify the reasons why some are left behind. A short list of potential interdisciplinary research topics include: Measurements of health, wellbeing and inequality at different aggregation levels; Health and labor productivity, labor supply and retirement age; Causes of mortality and the implications for long run economic growth; Incentives and effectiveness of selected policy instruments such as e.g. the fat tax; Longevity risk in a richer and healthier population: The economic implications for individuals, for insurance companies and for society.

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