The Sensible Knave

"I do not see that we are further along today than where Hume left us. The Humean predicament is the human predicament." - W.V.O. Quine

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Health Care Costs

A higher fertility rate is another factor that can account for higher per capita health care spending.

Here is some data on fertility rates for 2002, from the World Bank Database:
All High income Countries - 1.72
Canada - 1.52
France -1.88
Germany - 1.34
Japan - 1.33
Sweden - 1.64
United Kingdom - 1.63
United States - 2.01

Of course, if the amount spent per new person is a constant, then higher fertility rates would not raise per capita health expenditures. However, healthy infants and healthy pregnant moms require more costly services than does the average otherwise healthy person. So countries with higher infant population rates should have greater per capita health expenditures for the healthy. If all other disease and injury rates were constant across these countries, you would naturally expect health care expenses to greater in the countries with higher birth rates.

Moreover, higher fertility rates will lead to a disproportionately higher incidence of health issues requiring intensive prenatal or neonatal care.