Health as a Driving Economic Force

  • Klaus-Dirk Henke
  • Karl Martin


This chapter illustrates the contribution which could be made to realizing the Lisbon Strategy of the European Union for growth and jobs by innovative health care policy favoring a preventive orientation of health care. The prevention and control of risk factors for chronic diseases, as well as their potential impact on the quality of human capital as a union of health and education, are discussed. Human capital refers to health and education both of the individual, and of the population as a whole.

Investments in health and education could be used to mitigate or compensate the negative consequences of demographic change and globalization. This chapter concentrates on how exhausting the prevention potential of chronic diseases could extend the labor force potential beyond the conventional age limit of 65 years. Labor force potential usually refers to the maximum supply of labor available from workers, the unemployed and other nonworkers within an age range of 20–65 years. This optional innovative policy is explained using the example of the development of labor force potential in Germany between 2002 and 2050, prerequisites being a change in health care policy from cure to prevention, as well as a cultural change. Cultural change in the population and in politics would mean attributing the same level of importance to the prevention and control of risk factors for chronic diseases as to the prevention and control of infectious diseases.

The accumulation of human capital through investments in health and education is crucial to the innovative competences of the population. Both these sectors promote growth in the remaining sectors of the economy and, through their own development, become an essential driving force of growth themselves.

The increasing demand for new products and services will create a second health care sector for health-related services combining services which are covered by the insurance and by private out-of-pocket expenditures. This second sector deals not only with care but also with goods and services aside from services covered by the insurance.

Expenditure on health and education therefore has to be included as an investment within the national accounts statistics, expanding upon the previous concept of investment. This in turn means that corresponding coefficients, for example, would have to be developed for health impact assessment purposes.

Expanding labor force potential via compression of morbidity and mortality requires that health and education policy be embedded in growth-orientated labor and economic policies in order to ensure that the potential working years gained have an impact on production and prosperity. Health in All Policies becomes imperative.


Human Capital Gross Domestic Product Health Care Expenditure Health Care Sector Health Care Market 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Klaus-Dirk Henke
    • 1
  • Karl Martin
  1. 1.Technische Universität Berlin, Fakultät VIII Wirtschaft und Management, Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre und WirtschaftsrechtBerlin

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