Growth is often overlooked and underrated as an instrument for tackling the world's most pressing problems, such as poverty, illiteracy, income inequality, unemployment, and pollution. At the same time, grasp of the sources of growth in developing countries is less definitive than commonly thought, even though advice is sometimes given to policy makers in these countries with great confidence and perhaps greater than the state of knowledge will justify. This book, edited by Maureen Lewis and Michael Spence attempts to take stock of the state of theoretical and empirical knowledge on economic growth with a view to drawing implications for policy for the current and next generation of policy makers. Good health improves the capacity to learn and work, which dramatically improves income and welfare at the household level, even if the effects at the aggregate level may be harder to discern. The methodological problems in capturing these gains deserve attention and further work. More attention also needs to be paid to upgrading healthcare institutions, as more of the same is neither affordable nor desirable.
Chapter 1 “Health Investments and Economic Growth: Macroeconomic Evidence and Microeconomic Foundations”, written by William Jack and Maureen Lewis, explores the links between health outcomes and economic growth at the macroeconomic level. Later, it reviews the microeconomic linkages between health and income and considers the crucial role that public investments outside the “health” sector have played in improving health status. Finally, it summarizes the weak links between investments in medical care and health status.