Globalization: The key challenge facing health economics in the 21st century

  • Smith R
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Broadly speaking, globalization refers to the temporal and spatial compression of human interaction through advances in travel and telecommunications. Critically, it results in an accelerated expansion of worldwide economic relationships between nations, the key features of which are the increased opening of economies to trade (market liberalization), the cross-border flow of goods, services, capital, people and ideas, and the international institutions, rules and agreements that govern that flow. Discussion of globalization tends to be emotive and polarized-bringing increasing standards of living for all or the exploitation of the poor and destruction of indigenous cultures. Nonetheless, this process is continuing and growing, and will affect health through three main channels. Globalization will also require health economics to engage in forms of analysis--and the analysis of actors, institutions and structures--that are likely to be unfamiliar, or use familiar techniques in novel ways. Globalization may expand the overall health system budget, provide more, higher quality and cheaper health goods and services, and react more rapidly and effectively against disease. Globalization may also lead to greater 'privatization' of healthcare, widen inequities, and generate greater exposure to disease. Globalization therefore heralds a challenge to health economics. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)

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  • Richard Smith

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