Long-Run Macroeconomic Determinants of Cancer Incidence


  • Fabrizio Ferretti Department of Communication Sciences and Business Economics, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy
  • Simon Jones Department of Health Care Management and Policy, University of Surrey, UK
  • Bryan McIntosh Department of Business and Economics, Richmond University, UK




Cancer Incidence, Economic Growth, Income elasticity, Structural Change, Engel's function


Background: Understanding how cancer incidence evolves during economic growth is useful for forecasting the economic impact of cancerous diseases, and for governing the process of resources allocation in planning health services. We analyse the relationship between economic growth and cancer incidence in order to describe and measure the influence of an increasing real per capita income on the overall rate of cancer incidence.

Method: We test the relationship between real per capita income and the overall rate of cancer incidence with a cross-sectional analysis, using data from the World Bank and the World Health Organization databases, for 165 countries in 2008. We measure the elasticity of cancer incidence with respect to per capita income, and we decompose the elasticities coefficients into two components: age-effect and lifestyle-effect.

Results: An Engel’s model, in a double-log quadratic specification, explains about half of the variations in the age-standardised rates and nearly two thirds of the variations in the incidence crude rates. All the elasticities of the crude rates are positive, but less than one. The income elasticity of the age-standardised rates are negative in lower income countries, and positive (around 0.25 and 0.32) in upper middle and high income countries, respectively.

Conclusions: These results are used to develop a basic framework in order to explain how demand-side economic structural changes may affect the long run evolution of cancer incidence. At theoretical level, a J-Curve is a possible general model to represents, other things being equal, how economic growth influence cancer incidence.

Author Biographies

Fabrizio Ferretti, Department of Communication Sciences and Business Economics, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy

Department of Communication Sciences and Business Economics

Simon Jones, Department of Health Care Management and Policy, University of Surrey, UK

Department of Health Care Management and Policy

Bryan McIntosh, Department of Business and Economics, Richmond University, UK

Department of Business and Economics


Barro JR. Health and economic growth. Ann Econ Financ 2013; 14: 329-66.

World Health Organization. World health statistics. Geneve: WHO 2013.

Pritchett L, Summers LH. Wealthier is healthier. J Hum Resour 1996; 31: 841-68. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/146149

Jernal A, Center MM, DeSantis C, Ward EM. Global patterns of cancer incidence an mortality rates and trends. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2010; 19: 1893-907. http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-10-0437

Bray F, Moller B. Predicting the future burden of cancer. Nat Rev Cancer 2006; 6: 63-74. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nrc1781

Bray F, Jernal A, Gray N, Ferlay J, Forman D. Global cancer transition according to Human development Index (2008-2030): a population-based study. Lancet Oncol 2012; 13: 790-11. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(12)70211-5

Dos Santos Silva I. Cancer epidemiology. Principles and methods. Geneve: WHO-IARC 1999.

Bonita R, Beaglehole R, Kejellstrom T. Basic epidemiology. Geneva: WHO 2007.

World Health Organization. Rates are age-standardized to WHO’s world standard population. Geneva: WHO 2001.

Last JM. A dictionary of epidemiology. New York: Oxford University Press 2001.

World Health Organization. International classification of Diseases. Geneve: WHO 2010.

World Health Organization. Cancer facts sheet. Geneve: WHO; 2013 (http://www.who.int/media centre/factsheets/ fs297/en/).

Nasca PC, Harris P. Fundamentals of cancer epidemiology. Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Publishing 2007.

Lancaster KJ. A new approach to consumer theory. J Polit Econ 1966; 2: 132-57. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/259131

Argyrous G. Endogenous demand in the theory of transformational growth. In: Setterfield M, Ed. The Economic of demand-led growth. New York: Edward Elgar 2002; pp. 237-250.

Cornwall J. Modern capitalism. Its growth and transformation. London: Martin Robertson 1977.

Engel E. Die lebenskosten belgischer arbeiter-familien fruher and jetzt. Int Statist Instit Bull 1895, 9: 1-74.

Lewbel A. Engel curves. In: Durlauf SN, Blume LE, Eds. The new Palgrave dictionary of economics. London: Palgrave-McMillan 2008; pp. 1-7. http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/9780230226203.0476

World Bank. World development indicators. Washington: The World Bank Group 2012.

Ferlay J, Shin HR, Bray F, Forman D, Mathers C, Parkin DM. Globocan 2008 v2.0. Cancer incidence and mortality worldwide. Lyon: International Agency for Research 2010.

Baddeley MC, Barrowclough DV. Running Regressions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2009.

Wooldridge JM. Introductory econometrics. Mason: South Western-Cengage Learning 2009.

Starz R. E-Views illustrated, for version 7. Irivine: Quantitative Micro Software 2010.

World Bank. How we classify countries. Washington: The World Bank Group; 2013 (http://data. worldbank.org/about/ country-classifications)

Jones CI. Introduction to economic growth. New York: WW Norton & Company 2002.

Nell EJ. The general theory of transformational growth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1998.

Pasinetti LL. Structural change and economic growth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1984.

Selvanathan S, Selvanathan EA. Consumption patterns of food tobacco and beverages: a cross-country analysis. Appl Econ 2006; 38: 1567-84. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00036840500392664

Cutler DM, Glaeser EL. Why do Europeans smoke more than Americans? In: Wise DA, editor. Developments in the economics of aging. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 2009; pp. 255-282. http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226903361.003.0008




How to Cite

Ferretti, F., Jones, S., & McIntosh, B. (2013). Long-Run Macroeconomic Determinants of Cancer Incidence. International Journal of Statistics in Medical Research, 2(4), 275–288. https://doi.org/10.6000/1929-6029.2013.02.04.4



General Articles