LDI Research Seminar Series

David Cutler, PhD
John L. Loeb Professor of Social Sciences
Department of Economics, Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University

"Why Are Americans Healthier Than We Used To Be [And Who Cares]? "

April 13, 2001, 12:00 p.m.
Colonial Penn Center Auditorium
(3641 Locust Walk)

Abstract Biosketch

Since 1950, life expectancy at birth has increased by nearly 10 years, and life expectancy at age 65 has increased by nearly 4 years. In addition to living longer, people are healthier at any age than they used to be. Why has health improved so greatly? What are the implications of this change for society and public policy? This talk, the subject of the book I am writing this year, will consider these questions.

I show that health improvements result from several factors: high-tech medical interventions; low-tech pharmaceuticals; and behavioral change leading to healthier lives. Underlying each of these factors is a common theme: people value their health highly, and are willing to pay significant amounts, financial or psychic, to be in better health. These findings have important consequences for several issues: the amount of money optimally spent on health care; the length of the working life; and the failure of 'managed care' to meet peoples' expectations.

David Cutler is Professor of Economics at Harvard University, in the Economics Department and the Kennedy School of Government. David is also Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He received a B.A., summa cum laude, from Harvard College, and a Ph.D. in Economics from MIT. David's research is concentrated in health economics, including: explanations for increasing health costs; the effect of managed care on medical outcomes; and measuring the productivity of the medical sector. David is co-editor of the Journal of Health Economics, and associate editor of the Journal of Public Economics and the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

During 1993, David was on leave as Senior Staff Economist at the Council of Economic Advisers and Director of the National Economic Council in the Clinton Administration. David's primary responsibilities were in helping to design the President's health reform plan. In 2000, David was a health care advisor to the Bill Bradley for President campaign.

David has been a member of numerous commissions and advisory groups, including the Technical Panel on Social Security, and the Medicare Technical Advisory Panel.

In 2000-2001, David is on sabbatical at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences, in Palo Alto, California. David is writing a book on why people are in better health and the implications of health improvements for public policy.

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