Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Stanford University

FSI Stanford Courses

The Economics of Health Improvement in Developing Countries

Course number(s): ECON 127, HumBio 121, MED 262
Offered Winter quarter in the 2006-2007 academic year

Grant Miller - Stanford University

Research Assistant
Rekha Balu

This course introduces insights grounded in economics about health improvement in the developing world. Rather than surveying a range of diseases and health interventions, it presents a unifying conceptual framework for thinking analytically about the challenges of health improvement in poor countries. Examples of the types of questions posed include:

  • Why might better access to HIV/AIDS treatment cause people to engage in more risky sexual activity?
  • Why might health improve during sudden economic downturns?
  • How should public policy stimulate new research and development for tropical disease vaccines?
  • Why might food be exported during famines, and what policies ameliorate this?
  • Do we really know what explains the twentieth century's rapid health gains, and what lessons are relevant to health improvement in developing countries today?

The evaluation of empirical studies will also receive special emphasis. At the end of the course, students should be able to apply economic paradigms to pressing international health challenges, critically evaluate empirical evidence of what "works" and what doesn't, and pose unanswered research questions on which they can make progress.

Please note that the contents of the syllabus do not necessarily reflect what will be included in future quarters.

Graduate and undergraduate


Department of Medicine
Stanford School of Medicine