Skip to main content

Social Spending and Health Outcomes

By May 26, 2016Commentary

The US health system constantly gets negative comparisons to other developed countries, both for cost and outcomes, although most of these studies are flawed.  Another branch of this type of research focuses on the effect of social spending (where the US is also said, at least by our genius academics, to fall short) on health outcomes in a country.  A report from Rand looks at prior research and makes some original contributions to this field.     (Rand Report)   Okay, so first, who are we being compared with–the OECD countries, so mostly European ones, Japan and Canada.  Not one has anything like the socio-demographic makeup of the US.  What are the health outcomes we are looking at–infant mortality, birth weight, life expectancy, all-cause mortality, obesity rate, alcohol use and smoking rates.  Really, that is your measure for the health and health outcomes of a population?  Think any of those might be affected by socio-demographic factors?  How about we take the subsegment of the US population that looks like Canada or Japan or Sweden or even France and make a comparison on that basis.  And of course the authors on this warped analytic basis find that more social spending leads to better health outcomes, as they defined them, and that more government social spending is particularly valuable and that old age spending is even more strongly related, even to outcomes like lower infant mortality, which just shows how meaningless the analysis is.  It is pointless to spend much time actually looking at the results.

The bigger point that all these studies miss is that almost all of these OECD countries are in deep budgetary crap from all their welfare spending, health and social, leading to unsustainable deficits and debt levels, and that is in an era of unprecedented low interest rates.  When the crap hits the fan–see Greece and others–their social spending is going to plummet.  The problem most of these nations have is that they have been completely unable to generate sufficient economic growth and to force a sense of individual responsibility that would mean citizens would be more likely to generate enough income and wealth to take care of their own basic needs, without government aid.  That should be the goal of any government, instead, lead by politicians who care only about their own power, governments have fostered paternalistic policies which leave populations mired in dependent misery.  Lets all be like France where most people think there is no reason to work, the government should pay them a ton of money while they choose not to work, and anyone who is working and complains about supporting the layabouts just doesn’t understand social “solidarity”.  Why the hell would the United States want to go even further down that road to disaster than we already have?  Better to re-focus on how we create economic growth and to remove incentives for dependency.  Might improve peoples health and their sense of self-worth as well.

Leave a comment