When do we die in the long-run? The relative survival of politicians over the 20th century

Crawford School of Public Policy | Tax and Transfer Policy Institute
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Event details


Date & time

Friday 06 December 2019


Seminar room 2, Ground floor, JG Crawford Building


Professor Philip M Clarke, Health Economics Research Centre, University of Oxford; Centre for Health Policy, University of Melbourne


Diane Paul
02 6125 9318

As Thomas Piketty has demonstrated, compiling pragmatic measures of income distribution (e.g. top income approach) over long periods of time, and across many countries, provides valuable insights on the long-term evolution of income inequalities. To date there are no comparable statistics available for evaluating the evolution of income-related health inequalities.

The aim of the study is to develop a new approach to the measurement of long-run health inequalities, by comparing the relative and absolute survival rates of those in top income groups with the general populations they represent. To operationalise, the study focuses on a large cohort of politicians, as they are generally high-income earners, and there are databases in many countries that contain the information required to estimate their survival (i.e. date of birth/death and date they attained office). It estimates relative and absolute survival differences by matching each politician by year at risk, age at risk and sex to the life table of the country the individual represented. The study examines cross country trends in health inequalities and compare them with trends in income inequalities. The initial results were drawn from a subset of six countries drawn from a database compiled on 106,092 politicians from 12 developed countries (Australia, Austria, Canada, Netherlands, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States), which in some cases contains data dating back more than three centuries.

Professor Philip Clarke joined the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne in February 2012 as the Chair in Health Economics. Previously, Prof Clarke was the A/Prof at the Sydney School of Public Health. Prof Clarke previously spent six years engaged in health economic research at the University of Oxford. His research in Oxford focused on the economic analysis of the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) – a landmark trial of policies to improve the management of people with Type 2 diabetes. His health economic research interests include developing methods to value the benefits of improving access to health care, health inequalities and the use of simulation models in health economic evaluation. He has also undertaken policy relevant research for the World Bank, OECD, AusAID and DoHA. He has over 80 peered review publications and has recently contributed to books on cost-effectiveness analysis and cost-benefit analysis published by Oxford University Press.

Co-authors are Jay Stiles, Centre for Health Policy, University of Melbourne; An Tran-Duy, Centre for Health Policy, University of Melbourne; Laurence Roope, Health Economics Research Centre, University of Oxford; and Adrian Barnett, Institute of Health Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology.

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