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Subsidizing healthcare in the presence of market distortions

Sarbajit Chaudhuri (), Jayanta Kumar Dwibedi and Anindya Biswas

Economic Modelling, 2017, vol. 64, issue C, 539-552

Abstract: The paper develops a three-sector full-employment general equilibrium model for a small open developing economy with exogenous labour market imperfection and a non-traded sector providing healthcare services, the consumption of which generates positive externalities. Our main objective is to show that the optimal consumption subsidy to healthcare, if solely judged from the standpoint of economic growth, is strictly positive (zero) when the production technology of the healthcare sector is of the variable (fixed) coefficient type. However, in the variable coefficient case, the optimal per capita expenditure on healthcare crucially hinges on the degree of labour market imperfection and the quality of services provided by the healthcare sector. The latter result can possibly be considered as a theoretical justification why the magnitude of per capita public spending on healthcare services is significantly lower in the developing countries compared to that in the developed nations. Besides, using the Sen's (1974) index of social welfare that takes into consideration both the growth and income inequality aspects, we have proved that the optimal health subsidy is positive irrespective of the nature of production technology of the healthcare sector. Furthermore, most of these results are found to be valid even in the presence of Harris-Todaro type unemployment. Finally, the results lead to a few important policy implications in the context of the developing countries.

Keywords: I18; J31; H21; D58; D62; Consumption externality; Healthcare; Efficiency of labour; Health subsidy; Sen's (1974) welfare index; Developing countries; General equilibrium (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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