poly: Showing That You Care: The Evolution of Health Altruism

From: Robin Hanson <hanson@econ.berkeley.edu>
Date: Mon May 03 1999 - 16:43:48 PDT

I have a new paper draft ready for wider distribution. Comments welcome!
http://hanson.berkeley.edu/showcare.pdf or .ps

                      Showing That You Care:
                 The Evolution of Health Altruism

                         by Robin Hanson

Altruism, or directly caring about the outcomes of others, is often
suggested as an important explanation for otherwise puzzling phenomena in
health policy. There are many possible ``altruists," however, depending on
which people and outcomes the altruist cares about. I propose a specific
model of health altruism that 1) fits with what we know about our
ancestors' behavior and environment, and 2) accounts for several health
policy puzzles. It assumes that altruism was directed toward social
allies, that allies prevented health-harming crisis events, and that some
people knew things that others did not about who would remain an ally.
This model then offers a simple unified explanation of:
a) regulatory paternalism, especially toward the low status,
b) value-driven support for national health insurance,
c) the social-status health-gradient, and
d) the near-zero marginal health-value of medical care.

Robin Hanson
hanson@econ.berkeley.edu http://hanson.berkeley.edu/
RWJF Health Policy Scholar FAX: 510-643-8614
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 510-643-1884
after 8/99: Assist. Prof. Economics, George Mason Univ.
Received on Mon May 3 16:43:53 1999

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