April 25, 2016 | Amsterdam (NL)

Harvard University wins Econometrics World Championship with Health Care Solution

Harvard University wins Econometrics World Championship in Amsterdam with care solution

In times of economic crisis, the government can exert a major influence on public health, especially the health of older people with a low income. That is the result of four Econometrics students from Harvard University who won the annual Econometrics World Championship in Amsterdam last week.

Last week, 120 Econometrics students from the 30 best universities in the world competed for the 17th ‘world title’ in Econometrics. This "Econometric Game” is organized by the VSAE (the Study association for all students Actuarial Sciences, Econometrics and Operational Research at the University of Amsterdam) and the University of Amsterdam, with the support of sponsors ORTEC and EY. The participants in ‘The Econometric Game’ were challenged to study the effects of the economic crisis in Europe using a data set. An independent jury of professors eventually awarded the solution provided by the team from Harvard the prize, due to the social relevance and concrete implications of their proposal.

Gap between rich and poor

The winning team from Harvard showed that governments can play a major role in the health of their citizens, especially in times of economic crisis. Bart Veltman, partner at ORTEC: “During periods of recession, people with low incomes face extra risks. For poorer people who are already sick and receiving care, the recession is a burden because they don’t have a choice: the costs of the treatment they need remain at the same level, while their income decreases. But healthy people with a low income also face extra risks: they are more hesitant to seek care, less likely to visit a doctor when the first symptoms of a disease appear and put less effort into prevention in order to remain healthy. As a result, economic crises increase the gap between rich and poor in the area of health.”

Extra government investments have effect

Fortunately, governments have the ability to close that gap. Counter-conjunctural government investments help to encourage people to seek care when they need it. That was the conclusion of the team from Harvard University, based on a large set of data on socio-economic developments and gerontological care in Europe. The data applied to the period 2004-2013. Richard Bussink, Senior Manager IT Advisory at EY: “This is a remarkable and important finding, because governments often tend to cut health care budgets (along with other issues) during periods of economic recession. But the results show it would be more beneficial if they were to make counter-conjunctural expenditures to help keep their citizens healthy.”

The biggest difference governments can make is to invest extra in prevention, especially in times of economic crisis. The above-mentioned Health care experts from Ortec and EY, both sponsors of the Econometrics World Championship.

About the Econometrics World Championship

The 17th edition of The Econometrics Game was organized this year by VSAE (Association of Actuarial, Econometrics and Operational Research Students) and the University of Amsterdam. 120 students from top international universities such as Cambridge, Oxford and Harvard competed for the prestigious world champion title. Dutch universities were well represented at the competition, with teams from UvA, Tilburg University, VU Amsterdam, Erasmus University and the University of Maastricht. The event was sponsored by ORTEC and EY.

About EY 

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