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Is health care a necessity or a luxury? Pooled estimates of income elasticity from US state-level data

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This paper provides new evidence on the income elasticity of health care by combining stationarity and cointegration tests of health care expenditure and incomes with estimates of the cointegrating relationship between them. A recently updated dataset of health care expenditures and disposable personal income for the US states for the years 1966-1998 is used. The principal findings are that health care expenditures and incomes at the state level are non-stationary and cointegrated. Dynamic OLS cointegrating regressions of the pooled state time series estimate the income elasticity of health care at 0.817 to 0.844, well below unity, confirming that health care expenditure, even at the aggregate level, is a necessity good.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Economics and International Business, Sam Houston State University, PO Box 2118, Huntsville, TX 77341-2118 E-mail:

Publication date: 2003-03-01

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