Determinants of Life Expectancy in Eastern Mediterranean Region: A Health Production Function

Document Type: Original Article


1 Department of Health Economics, School of Management and Medical Information, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

2 Department of Economics, School of Economy, Management, and Social Science, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran


Determinants of health or health production function in health economics literature constitute noticeable issues in health promotion. This study aimed at estimating a health production function for East Mediterranean Region (EMR) based on the Grossman theoretical model.
This ecological study was performed using the econometric methods. The panel data model was used in order to determine the relationship between life expectancy and socioeconomic factors. The data for 21 EMR countries between 1995 and 2007 were used. Fixed-effect-model was employed to estimate the parameters based on Hausman test.
In estimating the health production function, factors such as income per capita (β=0.05, P<0.001), education index (β=0.07, P<0.001), food availability (β=0.01, P<0.001), level of urbanisation (β=0.10, P<0.001), and employment ratio (β=0.11, P<0.001) were specified as determinants of health status, proxied by life expectancy at birth. A notable result was the elasticity of life expectancy with respect to the employment rate and its significance level was different between males (β=0.13, P<0.001) and females (β=0.08, P>0.001).
In order to improve the health status in EMR countries, health policymakers should focus on the factors which lie outside the healthcare system. These factors are mainly associated with economic growth and development level. Thus, the economic stabilisation policies with the aim of increasing the productivity, economic growth, and reducing unemployment play significant roles in the health status of the people of the region.


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