Health, economics, and ancient Greek medicine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A period of two and a half millennia separates us from the Classical period of ancient Greece. Nevertheless, looking at ancient Greek medicine from the perspective of modern health
economics is an interesting endeavour in that it increases our understanding of the ancient world and provides insights into contemporary society. Ancient Greece is rightly famous for pioneering
secular and scientific medicine, but equally noteworthy is the prominence of healing cults, such as
that of Asklepios. In this paper, the market for secular physicians is illuminated with tools from
modern economics, for example the concern for the physician’s reputation. The simultaneous
emergence in ancient Greece of a scientific and rational approach to medicine and the
proliferation of religious medicine provides an interesting vantage point for a study of the current
market for alternative medicine. Similar circumstances arguably lie behind the dual nature of the
health market that was present then and is still present now. The underlying mechanism in both
periods is hypothesised to be increased uncertainty in everyday life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-192
JournalJournal of Economic Asymmetries
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Economics

Free keywords

  • health
  • economics
  • medicine
  • ancient Greece
  • alternative


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