Health Economics (2011–2014)

Department of Economics
Project start date:
JUNE, 2011 – MAY, 2014


About the project

The project is supported by the International Higher Education Support Program, Open Society Institute (Budapest). The major goal of this project is therefore to improve the quality of the undergraduate curriculum, to equip a cohort of lecturers with the skills and confidence to promote a new specialization and to enrich existing (and new) modules through embracing interdisciplinary tools, techniques, data and case studies that will illuminate anew the nature of Global Health Economics.



{slide=Why Health?}

The economies and societies of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) face a historically unprecedented range of health and demographic challenges with crucial short-, medium- and long-run implications for the future of the region. Key indicators show that in spite of the vigorous growth of the Russian economy over the last decade, the health of that population continues to decline.  Thus, it is reassuring that the Russian government has now started to increase the priority of health and demography, through its inclusion in the National Priority Projects and through the subsequent adoption of the 'Healthcare Development Concept to 2020'.

{slide=Why Orientation on the Development of Higher Education Curriculum?}

The success of these developments in Russia and other countries is dependent on the emergence of cohorts of young managers, policy makers and scholars that understand the nature of the inter- and multi-disciplinary challenges facing the public and private sectors in this region and beyond and that are able to shape public opinion as well as the decision-making process. For such experts and managers to appear they have to be raised, and our project aims to create a professional network of interested university lecturers ready to develop and promote this highly important topic in the university curricula.

{slide=Why Economics?}

As the WHO report arguing for investing in health both as an intrinsic good and as an instrument for promoting economic growth confirms, economic analysis underlies many decisions being made in health care and population policy.

{slide=Why Global?}

First, for successful policies addressing the contemporary challenges facing the CIS and the world more widely, new approaches are needed to embed understanding of how health outcomes are determined by the combined influences of economic performance, state policies, medical care provision (including medicines and medical technology) and individual behaviours. Secondly, challenges the CIS countries are facing are not unique for these countries – such or similar problems challenge both developed and developing countries across the globe and this increases the importance of international interaction and exchange of experience.

Core resource faculty of the project includes specialists coming from the USA and Europe (for more details please see Core resource faculty). The working language of the project is English. And this is one more face of the Global.

{slide=Anticipated Project Outcomes}

a)    Development of a network of young academics familiar with the contemporary state of the art in approaches to global health studies, including the economic, social and political determinants of health outcomes.
b)    Development of clusters of young academics in Russia and the CIS able to design and build undergraduate curricula appropriate for capturing and confronting the most pressing health, population and demographic challenges.
c)    Introduction of new undergraduate modules covering the broad principles of health economics, health and economic development, macroeconomics and health and the socio-economic determinants of health.
d)    Development of a shared online resource providing course syllabus, reading lists, lecture notes, book reviews, class exercises and exam questions.
e)    Promotion of a broader strand of interdisciplinary research addressing the core health challenges facing the region.
f)    Stimulating links with medics, health managers, policy makers and the growing number of non-profit organisations (e.g. patient groups).
g)    Sharing of best practice teaching methods and approaches from different disciplines and regions, including those incorporating e-learning techniques.
h)    Creation of an actual and virtual network of junior faculty from across the region, including those not directly linked with the project, with research and teaching interests in the field of health economics and global health studies.
i)    Encouraging the adoption of applied empirical techniques into the field of health studies, thus promoting the use of (often underused) existing data sources.
j)    Promoting integration with other health economics education networks, including for example, those in the UK.


Upon successful completion of the project the participants will receive certificate of participation in the programme of professional development.


{tab=Important info}

{slide=Project Format}

The project includes three summer contact sessions (10-14 days) gathering all project participants and core resource faculty. Between contact summer sessions the participants will work individually and/or in groups (using electronic communications) under the guidance of the core faculty; participants will also share their experience and comments each other’s work. The project will also include contact spring or winter contact sessions for smaller groups of participants with invited faculty specializing in specific topics.

{slide=Project Language}

Please, pay attention that major working language of the project is English! Though some of core resource faculty members speak some Russian, the ability to read English, to understand spoken English and to be able to express one’s thoughts in English is a necessary condition for participation in the project.


Activity and interest of all project participants is a key to its success, therefore we expect that each project participant will contribute to the project, actively respond to the tasks, come out with suggestions, help to direct the project to meet the needs of participants.

During the project participants will be evaluated by the resource faculty on the basis of their involvement, progress and activity shown during the summer session and inter-session periods.

Participants demonstrating the most active involvement and interesting research results by the completion of the project will receive further guidelines and advice from the resource faculty to publish their research results received within the project. Participants failing to demonstrate active involvement and substantial progress might be expelled form the project on the basis of the joint decision by the resource faculty. The most active participants will be encouraged, while the least interested participants with low involvement in the project and failing to demonstrate any progress will be expelled from the project (with a notification of recommenders).

The first important task is to read the reading package for the first summer session following instructions from the core resource faculty. The details will be provided here after selection of participants is completed.

{slide=Contact Sessions Venue}

Summer sessions will be held in St.Petersburg suburb. One important condition for a successful and active work during the summer session is a live communication of participants and resource faculty not only in the classroom but out of the organized activities as well. For this reason we hold our summer sessions outside of the city (thus escaping its attractions!), closer to the nature, providing conditions not only for studying but also for enjoying the summer. Each summer session will have an excursion to the city or an interesting suburb.

Contact spring or winter sessions will be organized in the most suitable place considering the chosen group of participants.

{slide=Costs and Allowances for Participants}

Within the project participants will be reimbursed the travel costs from their home town to St. Petersburg and back – up to the price of a return railway sleeping carriage, and an economy class airfair in case a railway journey takes more than 36 hours. Accommodation and food of participants during contact sessions will be also covered. All participants will be given basic texts for each course as well as photocopies of selected articles.

For Russian participants to receive reimbursement it is necessary to provide photocopies of the Individual Taxpayer Number and Social Security Number. Additional details concerning formalities will be written to selected participants in a special letter. An important note: please, do not buy tickets before receiving an instruction from the organizers for doing so.

{slide=Bringing Spouses, Partners, etc.}

Participants are not allowed to bring their spouses to the Summer Sessions. Because of a very limited number of places, participants are required to attend all classes and participate in all inter-session activities. If a participant systematically fails to meet this requirement he/she will be expelled from the project and his/her University, the recommenders and the project’s funders (HESP) will be notified about this fact.



Core resource faculty of the project is represented by the leading experts in different issues of Health Economics. All of them are ready to participate in the project for the three years of its duration. Additional specialists in more specific topics will be invited for presentations during the contact sessions of the project.


ChGerry sh

Dr Christopher J Gerry, co-director of the project, is a senior economist, specialising in Health and Well-being in the CIS, currently based at one of the world’s leading institutions: University College London (UCL). Dr Gerry has published widely on topics related to health and welfare in the region, has more than a decade of experience of teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level in the UK, has travelled widely in the CIS and has demonstrable experience of educational networking and curricula development within the European Higher Education Area.

EBrainerd sh

Professor Elizabeth Brainerd is Susan and Barton Winokur Professor of Economics and Women’s and Gender Studies at Brandeis University, USA. She has research interests in health economics, labor economics, economic demography, and health and fertility in post-socialist countries and has accumulated extensive experience teaching across the core economics undergraduate curriculum.


Dr Benoit Mathivet has served since 2009 as Health Policy Advisor for the WHO and Health Policy Analysis Unit of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Tajikistan. Dr Mathivet has expertise in health systems strengthening and health financing reforms in the CIS and Tajikistan where he contributed to the development of the National Health Sector Strategy for 2010-2020. Prior to this Dr Mathivet accumulated a decade of teaching and research experience in academia in France and the UK.


Professor Peter Mihalyi is Head of Department of Finance at University of Pannonia in Veszprem. Professor Mihalyi has extensive experience of teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level, including teaching on courses in Health Economics, Comparative Economic Systems and Applied Economic Policy. In policy, Professor Mihalyi has served in a number of positions for the Hungarian government.

JudithShapiro sh

Dr Judith Shapiro, now serving as Undergraduate Tutor at LSE, has published widely in the fields of health, population and welfare economics and has been involved in numerous projects and joint activities in related areas. She served as Resident Academic Coordinator at the New Economic School in Moscow and was strategically involved in helping drive the reform of postgraduate economics education.

MRowson sh

Mike Rowson, now serving as Senior Teaching Fellow in the Centre for International Health and Development, UCL Institute of Child Health and as a co-Director of postgraduate and undergraduate programmes in Global Health. He has a vast professional experience not only in teaching subjects related to a variety of issues in economics of health and development, but also a vast experience in forming and structuring curricula in Global Health Economics as well as in mentoring young faculty in these areas.


{slide=Year 1}

Thematic Focus

The first year of the project concentrates on developing the core theories, concepts and empirics of Global Health Economics. It will achieve this specifically through exploring three distinct but overlapping pathways: (i) Theoretical Health Economics; (ii) Applied Health Economics; (iii) Issues in Global Health. The first two will be developed in detail during the opening summer session, while the latter will provide a diverse and flexible thematic context for furthering conceptual and empirical understanding. In particular, the intersession work will enable participants to contemplate how they can incorporate the lessons, activities and materials of the project into their own teaching experiences.


Summer contact session


July 24th – August 7th 2011



Suburb of St. Petersburg, Russia



Global Health Economics: Introducing the core

Topics: Health Economics – core theory; Applied Quantitative Methods for Health Economists; Global Health and Development; Economic Systems; Medical Ethics.


Major topics:

  • What is Health Economics? (roundtable)
  • An Introduction to medical ethics (roundtable)
  • Markets in health
  • The demand for health
  • The supply of health
  • The role of government
  • Health systems: an analytical framework
  • A primer in econometric methods for health economists


Major literature (preliminary short-list):

A core textbook on the subject will be chosen and selected chapters will be made available to all participants. Additionally, a reader will be composed including a number of core papers, illustrating the core principles of Health Economics. These include, for example:


Medical Ethics

•    Le Grand, J. (2001) “The Provision of Health Care: Is the public sector ethically superior to the private sector”. LSE Health and Social Care Discussion Paper Number 1.
•    Hope, T. (2004) “Medical Ethics: A very short introduction”. Oxford.
•    Fuchs, V. (1998). Who Shall Live? Health, Economics, and Social Choice (expanded edition) World Scientific Publishing.


Demand for Health

•    Smith (1999) “Healthy Bodies and Thick Wallets: The Dual Relationship Between Health and Economic Status,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 13(2): 145-166.
•    Cutler, David and A. Lleras-Muney (2006), “Education and Health:  Evaluating Theories and Evidence,” NBER Working Paper 12352.


Supply of Health

•    Loevinshohn, B. and April Harding (2005), “Buying Results?  Contracting for Health Service Delivery in Developing Countries,” The Lancet 366:  676-681.
•    Chaudhury, N. et al. (2006), “Missing in Action:  Teacher and Health Worker Absence in Developing Countries,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 20 (1):  91 - 116.


Applied Health Economics

•    Angrist, Josh and Jorn-Steffan Pischke (2010), “The Credibility Revolution in Empirical Economics:  How Better Research Design Is Taking the Con out of Econometrics,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 24, no. 2.
•    Moffitt, Robert (2003), “Causal Analysis in Population Research:  An Economist’s Perspective,” Population and Development Review, 29(3):  448-458.


Comparative Health Systems

•    Horton, R. (2006) A new discipline is born: comparative health-systems studies. The Lancet, 368(9551): 1949-50.
•    Johnson, JA. and Stoskopf, CH. (2010) Comparative Health Systems: Global Perspectives.


Government Intervention

•    Connolly, Sara & Munro, Alistair (1999) Economics of the Public Sector. Prentice Hall Europe.
•    Cutler, David and Grant Miller (2005), “The Role of Public Health Improvements in Health Advances: The Twentieth Century United States,” Demography 42 (1):  1-22.


Format of activities: summer session

(a)    What is Health Economics? An introductory roundtable involving all members of core resource faculty (preparatory readings and tasks provided in advance)
(b)    Medical ethics: a simulated group exercise using a well-established classroom ‘game’ to illustrate the importance and complexity of medical ethics
(c)    Core topics: short introductory lectures by resource faculty members followed by discussions covering previously distributed readings on core topics
(d)    Participant individual and group presentations based on critical appraisal of popular Health Economics articles (specific readings for this will be assigned in advance immediately after selection process is completed)
(e)    Afternoon discussions (led by resource faculty members) on pedagogic elements of the material with particular focus on different approaches (e.g. discussions, debates, computer exercises, mock games)


Intersession activities

The intersession year one activity will be built around two specialized topics of the core - ‘comparative health systems’ and the ‘role of government’. Participants will have been introduced to these topics during the second week of the summer session and will be tasked with developing leading edge teaching materials at the nexus of Health Economics and health policy. Specifically, in these two specialisms they will be asked to consider: (i) what is the role of government in the provision of health care and what are the economic implications? (ii) What are the obstacles to the design of good policies to curb diseases like, for example, HIV/AIDS?

Selected literature:

•    Horton, R. (2006) A new discipline is born: comparative health-systems studies. The Lancet, 368(9551): 1949-50.
•    Johnson, JA. and Stoskopf, CH. (2010) Comparative Health Systems: Global Perspectives.


•    Cutler, D. and Zeckhauser, R. (2000) “The Anatomy of Health Insurance,” Chapter 11 in Handbook of Health Economics, Eds. A.J. Culyer and J.P. Newhouse, North-Holland.
•    Cohen JT, Neumann PJ, Weinstein MC. (2008) Does preventive care save money? NEJM; 358:661-663.
•    Wilensky GR. (2008) Cost-effectiveness information: yes, it's important, but keep it separate, please! Ann Intern Med; 148:967-968.


Format of activities: intersession

(a)    Preparation of written assignments relating to teaching, learning and research
(b)    Literature review of the ‘state-of-the-art’ in specific topics
(c)    Curricula / course design
(d)    Group co-ordinated activities
(e)    Small meeting with selected members of core faculty
(f)    Contribution to online forum

{slide=Year 2}

Results are coming soon...



Contact details

Contact persons:

Yulia Vymyatnina (academic co-director of the project)

Natalia Voinova (administrative co-director of the project)

Marina Zhuravleva (coordinator)

Postal address:

Department of Economics

European University at St.Petersburg

Gagarinskaya Str., #3

St. Petersburg, 191187


Telephone/fax: + 7 (812) 386-7632

Web site:

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