Health care expenditure disparities in the European Union and underlying factors: a distribution dynamics approach

  • José Villaverde
  • Adolfo Maza
  • María Hierro


This paper examines health care expenditure (HCE) disparities between the European Union countries over the period 1995–2010. By means of using a continuous version of the distribution dynamics approach, the key conclusions are that the reduction in disparities is very weak and, therefore, persistence is the main characteristic of the HCE distribution. In view of these findings, a preliminary attempt is made to add some insights into potentially main factors behind the HCE distribution. The results indicate that whereas per capita income is by far the main determinant, the dependency ratio and female labour participation do not play any role in explaining the HCE distribution; as for the rest of the factors studied (life expectancy, infant mortality, R&D expenditure and public HCE expenditure share), we find that their role falls somewhat in between.


Health care expenditure Disparities Distribution dynamics approach Persistence EU countries 

JEL Classification

I10 C14 



We gratefully acknowledge an anonymous referee and the Editor (P. P. Barros) for comments and suggestions on an earlier version of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of CantabriaSantanderSpain
  2. 2.Kemmy Business SchoolUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland

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