Exogenous determinants of health

Jan Abel Olsen

in Principles in Health Economics and Policy

Published in print August 2017 | ISBN: 9780198794837
Published online September 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780191836329 | DOI:
Exogenous determinants of health

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  • Public Health and Epidemiology
  • Medical Statistics and Methodology


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This chapter considers some determinants that lie completely outside of people’s own control. For such exogenous causes of ill health, the unlucky ones cannot be held responsible for their misfortune. Still, some of these causes are avoidable, in the sense that effective policy interventions exist. Biological variations are in general unavoidable. The chapter investigates two types of determinants associated with early life circumstances. The most systematic health difference that an individual is affected by is whether born a boy or girl: women live 5–6% longer than men. Childhood differences in health follow a strong social gradient, and some figures are included to prove this sad fact. One additional exogenous determinant is the physical environment that affects people’s health. A simple model is presented to show how unhealthy externalities can be reduced by imposing pollution taxes: the polluter pay principle.

Keywords: exogenous health determinants; gender health disparities; child health inequalities; physical environment; polluter pay principle

Chapter.  2284 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology ; Medical Statistics and Methodology

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