Health, Wealth, and Democracy

POL SCI 374, LEC 201

  • Class Number: 67526
  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Credits: 3
  • Meets Requirements:
  • Instructor: Natasha Borges Sugiyama
  • Course Dates:
  • Course Syllabus (.pdf)

This course will examine the relationship between health, wealth, and democracy. Do countries need to be wealthy and democratic to provide good health care outcomes for their population?

Understanding the relationship between regime type (democracy vs. non-democracy), wealth (development), and human development outcomes has been a central concern to political science scholars and development practitioners. While advanced industrialized democracies tend to have better health outcomes (e.g. life expectancy, infant mortality), evidence from around the world shows that neither wealth nor democracy are necessary to achieve good health. Some less developed countries have done very well in delivering health care to their citizens and some authoritarian regimes have made great strides as well.

This course will draw on the contemporary literature in political science and public health to examine the relationship between governance, economic development, and various features of health-related outcomes prioritized in the international development field. We’ll explore how political institutions and processes affect health outcomes. Our focus will be on global health priorities included in the Millennium Development Goals (MGD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including reducing maternal mortality, infant mortality, malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS transmission. The readings and analysis will draw on country case studies from around the world.

Image by Henry Mayer and restored by Adam Cuerden.