Public Health: Overview

R. Cookson*, M. Suhrcke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This article is a short introduction to the economics of public health. It starts by describing some of the contributions that economists have made to research on the measurement and determinants of population health. It then provides a brief overview of the nature and scope of public health, broadly understood as public policy intervention to prevent ill health. It then reviews normative economic arguments about market failure in public health and discusses the role of economic evaluation in public health. It concludes by noting three important areas for future research: public choice analysis of government failure in public health, the application of behavioral economic insights to the design of public health interventions, and methods for the economic evaluation of intersectoral public health interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Health Economics
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9780123756787
ISBN (Print)9780123756794
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Behavioral economics
  • Bounded rationality
  • Complex interventions
  • Economic evaluation
  • Economics
  • Externality
  • Government failure
  • Market failure
  • Natural experiments
  • Prevention
  • Public choice
  • Public health

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