The WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health presented evidence on the importance of a long list of social determinants of health in its final report in 2008, but policymakers find it difficult to translate the careful work of the Commission into concrete action because it remains unclear what interventions to prioritize. The objective of this paper is to determine a small set of social determinants for which there is empirical evidence of influence on population health, using Extreme Bound Analysis, a technique originally developed for models of economic growth. We estimate panel data models of life expectancy for countries of differing income levels using the World Bank’s World Development Indicators for the years 1990 to 2012. We address problems of missing data with multiple imputation techniques.


Katharina Hauck is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Health Policy, Imperial College London. She has broad research interests in the areas of empirical health economics, the quantitative evaluation of health policy, and applied micro-econometrics. Katharina is currently conducting research on the economic aspects of the social determinants of health, patient safety and quality of hospital care, obesity, and economic evaluation of HIV prevention programs. Katharina holds a PhD in Economics from the University of York. Her previous appointments were at the Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics, Monash University (Australia), the Centre for Health Economics, University of York (UK), and the World Health Organization in Geneva.