Health Economics @Milken Institute

We study evolving medical and lifestyle trends affecting peoples’ ability to sustain good health and focus on the policy implications of health care costs, resource constraints, regulatory environments, and behavioral factors. Our work focuses on: 

  • Public Health Risks — bridge the existing knowledge of public health risks with new realities by identifying and quantifying socio-economic determinants of public health and their resource implications.
  • Health Disparity — investigate the extent of location-, gender-, and race-based health inequalities domestically and abroad. It identifies policy amenable drivers of disparities – and to develop a set of practical and politically feasible policy recommendations to improve public health.
  • Health Policy Evaluation — measure health policy impacts and identifies effective policy alternatives that are based on credible, evidence-based solutions.

Informing Policy with County-Level Data: The Community Explorer

The Community Explorer investigates US health disparities by first understanding populations’ specificities then looking at their health profile. It identifies the different populations or communities based on their behavioral, demographic, economic, and social profiles. Then it links these profiles to chronic disease prevalence rates. The eight community profiles were identified by using Explanatory Factor Analysis and machine learning techniques, to sort 26 behavioral, demographic, economic, and social factors across 3,192 US counties.

Weighing Down America: 2020 Update

Obesity impacts segments of the US population differently based on their behavioral and socioeconomic profiles. The Milken Institute COVID-19 Community Explorer sorts US counties around eight profiles of communities that share common patterns across behavioral, economic, and social factors. This report uses these communities and identifies which of the 26 factors considered are systemically correlated with high obesity rates for each community.

How to Identify Health Innovation Gaps?

A disease’s cost and impact on society are challenging to assess. This Milken Institute analysis illustrates the benefit of new methods such as text mining and machine learning in merging and sorting information and argues for the necessary development of a metric that allows a systematic assessment of diseases’ cost, impact on society, and investment level.

Health Disparities in China: Mapping the Way Forward

Our study highlights how multiple health indicators interact and suggests that any policy targeting reduction of chronic disease and lifestyle modification must account for unique cultural, economic, demographic, and environmental peculiarities in each province. In other words, the way forward to reducing premature chronic disease mortality requires a tailored approach by region. Furthermore, our findings identify clusters of provinces by their risk level. Focusing on the provinces with the highest risk may be a cost-effective approach to achieve policy targets.

Lessons of the Millennium Development Goals

Did the United Nations' ambitious Millennium Development Goals improve the health of people in emerging regions of the world? In this paper, a discussion of the precursors of higher living standards and better health, Milken Institute Health Economist Ken Sagynbekov focused his data-driven inquiry on the effects of the MDGs, adopted in 2000, on the maternal mortality rate, the under-5 mortality rate, and the HIV/AIDS prevalence.

Childhood and Maternal Health in the Middle East and North Africa

This report focuses on the progress of childhood and maternal health in 18 Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries. Adopting the logic of comparing similar countries and studying persistent patterns in childhood and maternal health, the authors estimate latent trends of childhood and maternal mortality rates common to all countries in the region and identify their likely drivers.

Gender-Based Health Disparities: A State-Level Study of the American Adult Population

Many studies empirically investigate sex differences in health outcomes at national and international levels, but our understanding of gender-based health differences across U.S. states remains opaque. What we do know is that the health of American women continues to improve, but progress has been uneven.

State Health Inefficiencies

Despite spending more than any other country on health, the U.S. has a mediocre ranking across most health care quality and health outcome indicators. According to a report published in 2012 by the Institute of Medicine, the U.S. wastes roughly one-third of health expenditures - $750 billion annually - on unnecessary medical services, costly paperwork, fraud, and poor quality services.

Beyond the Limits of Traditional Health Care: A State-Level Systematic Review of Community Health Programs in the United States

Traditional health care has not reached all pockets of the U.S. population due to income inequality, increasing ethnic and cultural diversity, and deep fragmentation of the health care system. Community-based health models have evolved as alternative modes of care to bridge this gap. This study examines and compares community-based health programs across U.S.

Are Community Health Workers Saving Lives? A Longitudinal Analysis of State-Level Variation in Community Health Workforce

U.S. health care costs are increasing rapidly while health care outcomes and access vary significantly across the country. Community health workers (CHWs) serve as bridges between the health care system and underserved communities struggling to find appropriate modes of care. How much of a difference do CHWs really make?

Health and the Gender Gap

In this discussion paper on social and regional factors in well-being, Milken Institute Health Economist Ken Sagynbekov examines gender-based health disparities across U.S. regions. He assesses the role of social and economic influences on self-reported health. Among the findings: disparity is most pronounced in the South.