The Social and Economic Value of Health

An innovative research programme to investigate the impact of health on society and the economy


This programme is closed for applications.

  • A £2m research programme to develop understanding of how people's health makes a vital contribution to society and the economy.
  • Six projects from universities across the UK have been awarded between £150,000 and £350,000 for research of up to three years, from mid-2018.
  • This programme is now closed for applications.

Economic and social factors have a complex, dynamic and multi-directional relationship with people’s health. While much is known about their impact on people’s health, relatively little is understood about the impact of individuals’ health on the economy and society.


This Health Foundation programme aims to generate new knowledge and expand our understanding of the impact that a person’s physical and/or mental health has on their own economic and social outcomes over the medium to long term.

The programme will help develop understanding of the economic and social case for investing in strategies that maintain, protect and create health more broadly than through investment in health care, by reframing health as an asset that can potentially deliver wider economic and social returns on investment.


We are funding six projects with between £150,000 and £350,000. They will each run for up to three years.

The projects span a range of age groups and different social and economic outcomes. They will look at areas such as whether health status changes across the life course; whether similar experiences of health result in different outcomes across generations; and how variations in people’s mental and physical health shape their social and economic outcomes.

Key areas of interest for the projects include:

  • the impact of a person’s health on the economic and social aspects of their life, both at specific points in time and over the course of their lives
  • understanding how individuals’ different experiences of health leads to varying economic and social outcomes in the future
  • comparing across generations to find out whether similar experiences of health result in different outcomes, reflecting a changing context
  • methods that test explicitly whether health affects economic and social outcomes, rather than economic and social factors affecting health.

Causal effects of alcohol and mental health problems on employment outcomes: Harnessing UK Biobank and linked administrative data

Research project

This project will assess the causal effects of alcohol consumption and depression on social and economic outcomes, including employment, receipt of welfare benefits and income

The economic and social value of health from childhood to later life

Research project

This project aims to generate new knowledge and expand understanding of the impact that a person’s physical and mental health has on their economic and social outcomes over their life course and acros...

The causal impact of health status on labour market outcomes: consequences for individuals and households

Research project

This project will use econometric techniques to provide new UK evidence on the relationships between health status and work outcomes.

Life course impacts of health status on social and economic outcomes and transitions

Research project

This project will identify and analyse longitudinal data in order to establish and measure the impact of changes in health status, and provide insight for policy-makers

Does childhood obesity hinder human capital development?

Research project

This project aims to establish the causal pathways that link childhood obesity to human capital development and social outcomes.

Social and economic consequences of health status

Research project

Led by the University of Bristol, this project will use causal inference methods to assess how health status causally affects social and economic outcomes.

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