Benjamin Ly Serena forsvarer sin ph.d.-afhandling

Benjamin Ly Serena forsvarer sin ph.d.-afhandling: "Essays in Health Economics: Measurement and Policy"


Benjamin Ly Serena


“Esays in Health Economics: Measurement and Policy". Det vil være muligt før forsvaret at rekvirere en kopi af afhandlingen ved henvendelse til Informationen (26.0.20), Økonomisk Institut.

Tid og sted

13. marts 2019 kl. 14:00, CSS, Øster Farimagsgade 5, 1353 København K, bygning 7, lokale 7.0.34. Af hensyn til kandidaten lukkes dørene præcis.


Lektor Mette Gørtz, Økonomisk Institut, Københavns Universitet, Danmark (formand)
Professor Peter Nilsson, IIES, Stockholm Universitet, Sverige
Lektor Meltem Daysal, Syddansk Universitet, Danmark


This thesis consists of three self-contained chapters within Health Economics.

The first chapter concerns the measurement of inequality in life expectancy across income classes. We show that standard methods overestimate the degree of inequality by imposing an assumption of no income mobility. We develop and validate a new method to account for income mobility in these estimations. Using Danish administrative data on mortality and income over three decades, we show that both the level and the trend in inequality in life expectancy are half as big, when accounting for income mobility.


In the second chapter, I study the cognitive consequences of iodine deficiency in adolescence and the efficacy of iodized salt policies, a widely used public health policy to eradicate iodine deficiency. I find that the introduction of iodized salt in Denmark during 1998-2001 increased the average GPA of high school students by 6-9 percent of a standard deviation. While these effects are modest in size, they come at very low costs, suggesting that improving student nutrition is a low-hanging fruit among policies designed to increase student achievement.


In the third and last chapter, I estimate the effects of health insurance coverage for psychotherapy on the use of other mental health services and mental health. Using a recent reform of the Danish public health insurance, I show that psychotherapy coverage reduces the use of outpatient psychiatric hospital treatment by eight percent, and that the savings in the hospital sector offset 30 percent of the cost of psychotherapy coverage. I also find a 20 percent reduction in the incidence of suicide attempts, suggesting that psychotherapy coverage has a large positive effect on mental health.