This handbook provides a comprehensive and critical overview of the gamut of contemporary issues around health and healthcare from a political economy perspective. Its contributions present a unique challenge to prevailing economic accounts of health and healthcare, which narrowly focus on individual behaviour and market processes. Instead, the capacity of the human body to reach its full potential and the ability of society to prevent disease and cure illness are demonstrated to be shaped by a broader array of political economic processes. The material conditions in which societies produce, distribute, exchange, consume, and reproduce – and the operation of power relations therein – influence all elements of human health: from food consumption and workplace safety, to inequality, healthcare and housing, and even the biophysical conditions in which humans live.

This volume explores these concerns across five sections. First, it introduces and critically engages with a variety of established and cutting-edge theoretical perspectives in political economy to conceptualise health and healthcare – from neoclassical and behavioural economics, to Marxist and feminist approaches. The next two sections extend these insights to evaluate the neoliberalisation of health and healthcare over the past 40 years, highlighting their individualisation and commodification by the capitalist state and powerful corporations. The fourth section examines the diverse manifestation of these dynamics across a range of geographical contexts. The volume concludes with a section devoted to outlining more progressive health and healthcare arrangements, which transcend the limitations of both neoliberalism and capitalism.

This volume will be an indispensable reference work for students and scholars of political economy, health policy and politics, health economics, health geography, the sociology of health, and other health-related disciplines.

part I|100 pages

Theorizing health and healthcare

chapter 4|13 pages

Understanding Marx on health

Toward a class-based approach

chapter 8|19 pages

A lopsided reflation

The limited contribution of behavioral economics to the political economy of obesity

part II|103 pages

Contemporary political-economic dimensions of health

chapter 12|12 pages

Neoliberalism and health in global context

The role of international organizations

chapter 13|11 pages

Neoliberalism and mental health

chapter 16|8 pages

Digital health and capitalism

chapter 17|10 pages

The political economy of health and place

From the Great Compression to COVID-19

part III|86 pages

Contemporary political-economic dimensions of healthcare

chapter 19|11 pages

The financialization of long-term care in Canada

The case of Ontario

chapter 20|14 pages

The anatomy of Big Pharma

chapter 21|12 pages

Automating the welfare state

The case of disability benefits and services

chapter 22|10 pages

Understanding the health-politics nexus in the shadow of populism

Toward a political science of, and for, health

chapter 23|12 pages

Trade and investment

The re-ordering of healthcare and public health policy?

chapter 24|14 pages

Universal health coverage

A case-study of the political economy of global health

part IV|109 pages

Geographical varieties of health and healthcare

chapter 27|10 pages

Transformation of healthcare in China

The pre- and post-Maoist eras

chapter 30|11 pages

Healthcare in Australia

Contesting marketized provision

part V|92 pages

Alternative paths toward health and healthcare

chapter 34|13 pages

Social welfare and alternative forms of health provision

The UK experience and radical new frontiers

chapter 36|15 pages

The political economy of healthcare as commons

Exploring the commons health system and Indigenous peoples

chapter 37|12 pages

Diverse economies of care-full healthcare

Banking and sharing human milk

chapter 39|12 pages

Cuban medical internationalism

A radical alternative approach to medical ‘aid’