Usually I like to post blogs with specific topics, or at least themes that can unify several ideas/datasets coherently. Right now I’d like instead to write a blog with a few interesting things I’ve found recently.

First, I would like to post this graphic showing healthcare expenditure (% of GDP) over a selection of OECD (a rich nation club) members:

This graph was made using Google’s Public Data Explorer and can be found here. I’ll list the values in case you have trouble accessing the link: France 8.7% of GDP on public health, Germany 8%, US and Netherlands 7.3%, Canada 7.1%, and the UK at 6.9%. I think this is a critical graph when discussion on reforming healthcare in the US takes place. As an OECD country, we spend an average amount on public healthcare alone. But what’s not in this graph is our massive expenditure on private healthcare. Data for this was only available for the year 2007, so I made a different kind of graph:

This graph (also from Google Public Data Explorer) shows the real anomaly of healthcare in the US: despite spending a similar amount on public healthcare as other OECD members, we spend much more on private healthcare. This translates into a combined health expenditure of 16% of GDP for the United States. For comparison, here are the combined expenditures for the other members: France 11%, Germany 10.4%, the Netherlands 9%, Canada 10.1%, the UK 8.4%. This succinctly defines problem that some have with the coverage gap in the US which currently leaves ~15% uninsured and produces a very average life expectancy of 78.37 years (50th best in the world). I don’t want to comment further on this debate as I feel it is well covered in the media if you look in the right places.

Moving on, I would like to move on to another recent interest of mine, academic dick waving. There are two publications that I’ve recently found that list eminent academics in two of my favorite disciplines: International Relations and Economics. The first is a survey (you can find here) that examines: “Teaching, Research, and International Politics.”

When respondents were asked “Please list the four scholars who have had the greatest impact on the field of international relations over the past 20 years.” They found:

Some interesting names here, any names you recognize? When asked “What do you consider the top five terminal masters programs in international relations for students looking to pursue a policy career?” they responded:

Again some very interesting schools on the list.

Now I’d like to move on to Economics using a list from RePEc. Who are RePEc you ask? well “RePEc (Research Papers in Economics) is a collaborative effort of hundreds of volunteers in 74 countries to enhance the dissemination of research in economics.” and who do they think are the best economists?

01 Andrei Shleifer

02 Joseph E. Stiglitz

03 James J. Heckman

04 Robert J. Barro

05 Robert E. Lucas Jr.

 06 Peter C. B. Phillips

07 Daron Acemoglu

08 Martin S. Feldstein

09 Jean Tirole

10 Edward C. Prescott

 11 Olivier Blanchard

12 Kenneth S Rogoff

13 Mark L. Gertler

14 Christopher F Baum

15 Paul R. Krugman

16 Thomas J. Sargent

17 John Y. Campbell

18 Lawrence H. Summers

19 Nicholas Cox

20 Barry Julian Eichengreen

21 Ross Levine

22 N. Gregory Mankiw

23 Ben S. Bernanke

24 Robert Ernest Hall

25 Elhanan Helpman

26 Gary S. Becker

27 Robert W. Vishny

28 David E. Card

29 Maurice Obstfeld

30 Michael Woodford

Personally my favorites are Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman (his blog on NYT is excellent).