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Economic complexity and health outcomes: A global perspective

Trung Vu ()

Social Science & Medicine, 2020, vol. 265, issue C

Abstract: Do a country's economic structures matter for its national health status? This study, for the first time, examines the extent to which the mix of products a country produces (and exports) affects population health. For this purpose, I employ the economic complexity index (ECI) that relies on the sophistication of export bundles to extract information on the availability of productive capabilities within an economy. Using unbalanced panel data for 103 countries between 1970 and 2015, this paper documents strong and robust evidence that countries exporting complex (high productivity) products, on average, enjoy better health outcomes, compared with those whose economic structures are mainly based on unsophisticated (low productivity) products. Additionally, there exists evidence that a key channel through which ECI transmits to health improvements is via strengthening employment opportunities. It follows from these findings that health improvements can be fostered by structural transformation toward producing a more diverse range of sophisticated products.

Keywords: Economic complexity; Health outcomes; Life expectancy; Mortality (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2020.113480

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