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A novel health metric based on biomarkers

Qing Li (), Alain Cohen and Linda Fried
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Qing Li: PRIMUS, University of Sherbrooke
Alain Cohen: Department of Family Medicine, University of Sherbrooke
Linda Fried: Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

Cahiers de recherche from Departement d'Economique de l'École de gestion à l'Université de Sherbrooke

Abstract: We propose a biomarker-based, objective and continuously distributed health measure which is novel to the economics literature. Using 41 commonly available biomarkers in two leading biomarker databases, we consider the individuals as points in a 41-dimensional biomarker space and measure their objective health as the Mahalanobis distance to the centroid of a reference group. In this way the centroid of the reference group represents an "ideal state" of health, and a bigger distance from this centroid indicates worse health. We validate versions of our health measure using di¤erent number of biomarkers and through the link with a commonly used measure of general health (self-reported health); we nd that our health measure is positively but not perfectly linked to self-reported health. Additionally, we nd that the signal of health increases with the number of biomarkers included; nonetheless, it is clearly feasible to have a signal with fewer biomarkers though the signal could be weaker. Finally we illustrate our health measure in two applications: 1) the estimation of health distribution where we nd a long tail representing individuals in very bad health; 2) the concentration index where we can truly satisfy the requirement for continuously de ned general health.

Keywords: comparative advantage; physical capital; hurricanes. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: F14 O10 Q54 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 27 pages
Date: 2017-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea
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