Unintended Consequences

Definition

Health Economics

  • The meaning of unintended consequences of policy is plain but despite this many consequences that could have been anticipated are frequently not anticipated or sought for in empirical work. Thus, increasing the legal age for alcohol consumption may have the unintended consequence of increasing marijuana use through a rather obvious (to economists, at least) process of substitution. Neglect of opportunity cost can produce unanticipated consequences that are neither efficient nor fair, as when special interests plead their cases successfully and obtain a greater share of health care resources - at the expense of health losses to (anonymous) others who may have more valid claims on a fixed pot of resources.
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