Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Lund University, Department of Economics

No 2001:11: Time to disable DALYs? On the use of DALYs in health policy.

Carl Hampus Lyttkens ()
Additional contact information
Carl Hampus Lyttkens: Department of Economics, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) is a concept which has rapidly gained in popularity in health policy and considerable research resources are being allocated to the area. Proponents of DALYs suggest that the measure can be used both as a “GDP of health” and to help in setting priorities in health policy. This study extends the criticism of DALYs and contends that DALYs – as the measure is currently understood – cannot be used for either of these two purposes. The DALYs procedure does not produce what it purports to do (a measure of population health), and its use in priority setting is ethically dubious.

Keywords: DALYs; QALYs; priorities; ethics; population health; health care

JEL-codes: I18

24 pages, First version: July 25, 2001. Revised: September 2, 2001.

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