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Health Economics

  • Teacher(s):
  • Course given in: English
  • ECTS Credits:
  • Schedule: Autumn Semester 2018-2019, 4.0h. course (weekly average)
  •  séances
  • site web du cours course website
  • Related programme: Master of Science (MSc) in Economics



Since the 60’s, economists have studied the properties of health and health care. Their research has changed the way society promotes and maintains health and organizes the provision of health care. The main goal of the course is to introduce students to the field of health economics by providing a broad overview of some of the topics and fields of research. Through analysis of real-world cases and specific research papers on issues in high- and low- and middle-income countries, we will demonstrate the application of economic reasoning based on theoretical concepts and sophisticated empirical applications. This provides important insights into how economics influences the health of populations, the financing and organisation of health care as well as the cost and quality of health care delivery around the world.

In higher income countries, health related expenditure accounts for the largest proportion of GDP, with expenditures rising faster than incomes. Hence, the sustainability of the financing and delivery of health care is of major concern. Moreover, our understanding of health risks and the behaviours that influence them have grown significantly, and the economic influences and cost-effectiveness of interventions to reduce these risks is an important area of research. In lower income countries, health spending is still insufficient to meet the needs of the population, and although significant progress has been made in improving health outcomes and access to better health care, rapidly changing disease burdens, needed health technologies imply improved mechanisms to finance and deliver health care are needed.

The course applies microeconomic tools supported by robust empirical evidence to understanding the economics of health behaviours and the organisation of health care markets. We focus on concepts such as the demand for health and health care, health insurance, competition in health care markets, influence of payment systems on health care provider behaviour, and the economics of the pharmaceutical sector. We will also focus on how the research in health economics has assisted our understanding of policy options in the health care industry. During the course, we will also discuss several important health and health care challenges for low- and middle-income countries and how they shape current policy approaches in Global Health.


An outline of the lecture topics covered by term weeks is given below:

1. Introduction: Global demography and epidemiology (What is health, how can we measure it and how is it distributed across time, space and social groups?);

2. Program evaluation econometrics: A brief refresher;

3. Economic models for the demand for health and health behaviours; the relationship between socio-economic status and health;

4. Special health challenges and determinants of health and health behaviours in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs); (+Case 1)

5. Health care supply issues in LMICs; (+Case 2)

6. Universal Health Coverage and healthcare financing in LMICs; (+Case 3)

7. Health care costs: Overview and drivers;

8. Health care markets and systems: Physicians, Hospitals, Regulators, Payers etc;

9. Economics of health insurance I; (+Case 4)

10. Economics of health insurance II;

11. Health care supply: Quality and regional variation; (+Case 5)

12. Health care provider incentives and payment systems;

13. Pharmaceutical industry and technological evaluation; (+Case 6)


Reading material will consist of published articles from economic journals and health economic field journals. But will also include wider literature from health policy, health services research and medical journals.

Case studies from various sources will be provided with supplementary reading to support the analysis of the case.

For the articles and case studies, see the Content and Reading List as well as lecture folders to be posted in Moodle.


The only prerequisite of the course is to be familiar with Microeconomics theory and applications at an intermediate level and Applied Econometrics and Statistics at an intermediate level.


First attempt

Written 1h30 hours
Not allowed
Allowed with restrictions

The course will be evaluated by group work analysis and presentation of case studies; participation during the discussion of the case studies; individual short essays based on presented case studies; and a final written exam.

Distribution of grades is as follows:

2 separate group work assignments involving the analysis and presentation of a case study: 2 x 15% (30% of final grade).

Class participation during the presentation and discussion of all the case studies (at least 6): 10% of final grade (attendance, involvement and contribution to discussion).

2 short essays analysing two case studies of a student’s choice (but not the same case presented as their group work): 2 x 10% (20% of the final grade).

Final written exam: 40% of final grade.


Written 1h30 hours
Not allowed
Allowed with restrictions

A retake exam will take the form of a written exam (the grades from the group work, class participation and short essays will NOT be included in the written retake)

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