The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics
FEATURED ARTICLE

Health Care

Michael A. Morrisey

Health care is different from other goods and services: the health care product is ill-defined, the outcome of care is uncertain, large segments of the industry are dominated by nonprofit providers, and payments are made by third parties such as the government and private insurers. Many of these factors are present in other industries as well, but in no other industry are they all present. It is the interaction of these factors that tends to make health care unique....

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ALSO OF INTEREST

Health Insurance

John C. Goodman

Immigration

George J. Borjas

Public Choice

William F. Shughart II

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FEATURED BIOGRAPHY

George Stigler

(1911-1991)

George Stigler was the quintessential empirical economist. Paging through his classic microeconomics text The Theory of Price, one is struck by how many principles of economics are illustrated with real data rather than hypothetical examples. Stigler deserves a great deal of the credit for getting economists to look at data and evidence....

Take, for example, Stigler's "A Note on Block Booking." Block booking of movies was the offer of a fixed package of movies to an exhibitor; the exhibitor could not pick and choose among the movies in the package. The Supreme Court banned the practice on the grounds that the movie companies were compounding a monopoly by using the popularity of the winning movies to compel exhibitors to purchase the losers.

Stigler disagreed and presented a simple alternative argument. If Gone with the Wind is worth $10,000 to the exhibitor and Getting Gertie's Garter is worth nothing, wrote Stigler, the distributor could get the whole $10,000 by selling Gone with the Wind. Throwing in a worthless movie would not cause the exhibitor to pay any more than $10,000. Therefore, reasoned Stigler, the Supreme Court's explanation seemed wrong....

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