Economic Benefits of Investing in Women’s Health: A Systematic Review

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Economic Benefits of Investing in Women’s Health: A Systematic Review

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Title: Economic Benefits of Investing in Women’s Health: A Systematic Review
Author: Onarheim, Kristine Husøy; Iversen, Johanne Helene; Bloom, David E.

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Citation: Onarheim, Kristine Husøy, Johanne Helene Iversen, and David E. Bloom. 2016. “Economic Benefits of Investing in Women’s Health: A Systematic Review.” PLoS ONE 11 (3): e0150120. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150120.
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Abstract: Background: Globally, the status of women’s health falls short of its potential. In addition to the deleterious ethical and human rights implications of this deficit, the negative economic impact may also be consequential, but these mechanisms are poorly understood. Building on the literature that highlights health as a driver of economic growth and poverty alleviation, we aim to systematically investigate the broader economic benefits of investing in women’s health. Methods: Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines, we systematically reviewed health, gender, and economic literature to identify studies that investigate the impact of women’s health on micro- and macroeconomic outcomes. We developed an extensive search algorithm and conducted searches using 10 unique databases spanning the timeframe 01/01/1970 to 01/04/2013. Articles were included if they reported on economic impacts stemming from changes in women’s health (table of outcome measures included in full review, Table 1). In total, the two lead investigators independently screened 20,832 abstracts and extracted 438 records for full text review. The final review reflects the inclusion of 124 articles. Results: The existing literature indicates that healthier women and their children contribute to more productive and better-educated societies. This study documents an extensive literature confirming that women’s health is tied to long-term productivity: the development and economic performance of nations depends, in part, upon how each country protects and promotes the health of women. Providing opportunities for deliberate family planning; healthy mothers before, during, and after childbirth, and the health and productivity of subsequent generations can catalyze a cycle of positive societal development. Conclusions: This review highlights the untapped potential of initiatives that aim to address women’s health. Societies that prioritize women’s health will likely have better population health overall, and will remain more productive for generations to come.
Published Version: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150120
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