Does Medical Expansion Improve Population Health?


Journal Article

Medical expansion has become a prominent dynamic in today's societies as the biomedical model becomes increasingly dominant in the explanation of health, illness, and other human problems and behavior. Medical expansion is multidimensional and represented by expansions in three major components of the healthcare system: increasing medical investment, medical professionalization/specialization, and the relative size of the pharmaceutical industry. Using Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development health data and World Development Indicators 1981 to 2007, we find medical investment and medical professionalization/specialization significantly improve all three measures of life expectancy and decrease mortality rate even after controlling for endogeneity problems. In contrast, an expanded pharmaceutical industry is negatively associated with female life expectancy at age 65 and positively associated with the all-cause mortality rate. It further compromises the beneficial effect of medical professionalization/specialization on population health. In general, medical professionalization/specialization and gross domestic product per capita have similar and stronger effects than medical investment.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Zheng, H; George, LK

Published Date

  • March 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 59 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 113 - 132

PubMed ID

  • 29390884

Pubmed Central ID

  • 29390884

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2150-6000

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-1465

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0022146518754534


  • eng