February 20, 2018


Production function studies have mainly been directed at the formal health care sector, in particular hospitals. Health production function relating medical and/or non-medical health inputs to good health, however, have not been intensively investigated.

This paper explores the possibility of employing a health production function to examine the relationship between preventive health programs and health status. A review of previous empirical works is presented. When morbidity or mortality is used as a ,measure of health status, a modification of the usual production function is needed as morbidity or mortality is expected to decline when health input increase. This paper examines six possible function forms, i.e. linear, quadratic, log-linear, reciprocal log-linear, and double log. The paper also considers the use of a health production function to construct isoquants for health status and to estimate the elasticity of production and the elasticity of substitution between health inputs. Some empirical results on the production relationship between morbidity, safe water, and sanitation are presented.


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(This paper has been published as Wibowo, D.H. and Tisdell, C.A. (1992), “Health production functions for preventive health programs”, Economics and Health: 1992, Proceerings of the Fourteenth Australian Conference of Health Economists: 106-133).