Why do citizens in some areas fall ill from diseases that have long since disappeared in other parts of the world? How does health influence people’s future income, educational attainment or wellbeing? How should international institutions, governments and communities respond to the growing link between globalization and disease? These questions are at the heart of current societal challenges, but their answer requires taking a long-term perspective, as health progress and the inequalities that emerge when this takes place unevenly can be reliably traced back to earlier historical periods. Indeed, a large body of scientific evidence from the humanities and the social and natural sciences shows that past health developments have had a lasting influence on our society. However, most of this academic work is behind paywalls in a few academic journals or lacks the attention it deserves to prevent widespread misinformation on issues that concern us all.
Long-Run Health Matters aims to tackle this problem by bridging the gap between the general audience and leading experts on how long-run health matters for understanding the origins of global health inequality and its societal impact. For this purpose, our portal provides an open-access meeting point in which leading experts summarize their latest work to those interested in the topic, in an accessible way. Ultimately, this material is intended to foster an informed dialogue about pressing health issues with an impact on both historical and current societal challenges.
Long-run health inequality is a puzzle that requires putting together many pieces. For this reason, the range of topics we cover will be broad and focused on comparisons across countries and time. For instance, our research portal features discussions on how mortality developments influence differences in wellbeing across countries; the origins of health progress (or lack thereof) in individual countries as well as comparisons across regions highlighting how inequalities have evolved; the importance of public health infratructures, nutrition and technology in overcoming disease and early death; how the human body has changed in response to changes in our economic and demographic environment; the link between nutrition, health and poverty; and the rise of lifestyle diseases. Long-Run Health Matters draws inspiration from other initiatives that bring evidence-based insights on long-term issues to the public, such as Our World in Data or The Long Run. We believe that we can better understand and improve health related progress, if public discussion is enhanced with serious and rigorous research.
This project has been made possible by generous funding to Daniel Gallardo Albarrán from the following institutions:
- The Dutch Research Foundation (NWO) awarded a Veni grant in 2020 to the project ‘Global health inequality and the diffusion of sanitation since 1850‘.
- Emergent Ventures, a fellowship and grant program from the Mercatus Center led by prof. Tyler Cowen (George Mason University), awarded a grant in 2020 to the project ‘Global epidemics in historical perspective: cholera and yellow fever outbreaks before 1950’.
Would you like to write an article for Long-Run Health Matters? Are you interested in knowing more about us or the authors that have participated in this project? Then contact us here.
My name is Daniel Gallardo Albarrán and I am the founder and content manager of Long-Run Health Matters. I work as assistant professor in economic history at the University of Wageningen (personal website) and my research focuses on understanding the drivers of long-term health developments and their implications for global welfare disparities. My publications consider the effect of sanitary infrastructures on public health; the link between health and welfare; how health influences productivity; and determinants of economic performance.