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Sick SocietiesResponding to the global challenge of chronic disease$
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David Stuckler and Karen Siegel

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199574407

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574407.001.0001

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Social and economic consequences of chronic diseases

Social and economic consequences of chronic diseases

What are the social and economic consequences of chronic diseases?

Who suffers from the costs of these diseases?

Is there a case for governments to act to reduce the social harms caused by chronic diseases?

(p.63) Chapter 3 Social and economic consequences of chronic diseases
Sick Societies

David Stuckler

Marc Suhrcke

Oxford University Press

This chapter details how economic perspectives can enlighten us on how best to respond to chronic diseases. It shows that such economic tools are powerful, but they have ethical, policy, and technical limitations. The chapter begins by setting out the meaning of ‘economic perspective’ and addressing its important drawbacks. It then discusses four key questions: What are the social and economic costs of chronic disease? Who carries the burden of these costs? How do we measure them? Can these social harms caused by chronic diseases be avoided at low cost? In considering the final question, it assesses whether in a ‘no-change’ scenario the harm caused by chronic diseases can be expected to ‘take care of itself’ through market forces, evaluating the economic case for government support of broader public health interventions.

Keywords:   economic perspectives, chronic disease, social cost, economic costs, no-change scenario, public health, health policy

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