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March 16, 2006


Kevin Mayer

The World Bank recently (March 9) released a relevant document, the Information and Communications for Development 2006: Global Trends and Policies. The link: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTINFORMATIONANDCOMMUNICATIONANDTECHNOLOGIES/0,,contentMDK:20831214~pagePK:210058~piPK:210062~theSitePK:282823,00.html.

Mona Johnson

Hi Brough,

I've been spending time looking at medical research lately, so I'm interested in your comparison of telecom to healthcare investments. I guess capital spending on mobile telecom provides better returns than spending on medical research. In fact, it might be that medical research spending is best viewed as a cost, rather than an investment.

But why is that? Maybe because the people who need medical advances the most tend to not be "productive" in the economic sense, or maybe the underlying technology (biomedical research) is not advancing as fast as it is for telecom.


Mona, The studies I'm quoting measure improvements in per-capita GDP or the equivalent. If you were measuring increases in average life span or reductions in child mortality, then healthcare investments should do better than telecom investments!

Also, the studies are not about research. For telecom, it's investments in deploying infrastructure or measuring a resulting increase in tele-density. Comparable investments in healthcare in a developing economy might include drugs, healthcare workers & clinics, as well as investments in clean water and other public health measures.

But this does explain why our paths haven't crossed for some time now :-)
My loss...

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