The effect of health on economic growth: a meta-regression analysis

Masagus M. Ridhwan*, Peter Nijkamp, Affandi Ismail, Luthfi M.Irsyad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The main objective of this study is to examine the effect of health on economic growth based on 719 estimates obtained from 64 studies from all over the world. We find evidence of a publication bias towards a positive estimated effect of health on economic growth. After accounting for heterogeneity of the estimates, we show that health has a genuine positive effect on economic growth. Less developed countries seem to enjoy a higher effect of health on growth driven by the ongoing economic–demographic transition in those countries. The variation of the health effect on economic growth is also influenced by the available data, estimation procedure, model specification, publication channel, and country characteristics in each study. Studies that do not account for endogeneity seem to create an upward bias. Studies with more comprehensive variables seem to increase the estimated effect of health on growth. A higher number of years of compulsory education, longer working experience, and more favourable environmental conditions also increase the effect size. Overall, our results confirm the key role of the health factor in explaining economic growth across countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3211-3251
Number of pages41
JournalEmpirical Economics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Economic growth
  • Health
  • Meta-regression analysis
  • Mixed effect


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