Economics and Dementia Policy

I have had a slightly unusual academic career in the sense that I got to a job for which you usually need to have a PhD, without actually doing one. In academia, impostor syndrome is very common, and it has always felt particularly impostor-like to find that conference organizers and panel chairs presented me as Dr Comas-Herrera. I have always tried to put them right, but perhaps it is easier if I actually do a PhD!

This is not the only reason to do it, of course. There are practical implications too (like pots of funding that require that the principal investigator has a PhD). But there is also an opportunity to take a step back from the fairly “applied” type of research I have done for most of my career so far, and to reflect on it.

I am now a part-time PhD student at the LSE’s Department of Health Policy, just starting my second year.

My thesis explores the relationship between economic concepts and evidence and dementia policy.

It is striking that almost all presentations at global dementia policy events start with slides highlighting the enormous costs of dementia to society, used as an argument for the need for policy action in dementia. While this suggests that policymakers and advocates are paying at some attention to health economics (or at least cost of illness studies), the extent to which economic concepts and evidence have played a role in the development of dementia policies (other than as a justification for the need for action) is unclear.

In my thesis I will map the extent to which the existing economic evidence covers the key policy decision areas in dementia. I will then analyse dementia policy documents to identify and contextualise uses of economic concepts and evidence and, in three countries, I will study in depth the way in which economic arguments and evidence were used by different actors involved in the policy process.


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