John Akin
 Office, Phone & E-Mail List Department of Economics ◊ University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

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Gardner 104E


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Interim Director of the Entrepreneurship Minor
Health Economics,
Public Finance,
Human Resources




John S. Akin, Austin H. Carr Distinguished Professor is a specialist in Health Economics, with a teaching and research focus on developing country health systems.  Since he received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan in 1971 he has organized his research agenda around the design and evaluation of public programs in the education, population, and health areas.

Dr. Akin is perhaps best known for his work on the financing of health systems in developing countries, work which has affected the public policies of almost every developing nation in the world. From 1985 to 1987 Dr. Akin, with two coauthors, developed the World Bank's official policy on financing health services in developing countries. The World Bank is one of the member institutions of the United Nations, and is both the world's largest source of general development funding and the largest single donor for health programs in developing countries.  Dr. Akin continues to be called on by the World Bank, by other international organizations, and by individual governments for guidance in health sector finance initiatives.

While the health financing research (including an extensive set of journal articles on that and related topics) is probably the work for which he is best known, Dr. Akin has done work of similar importance on local government taxing capacity, on the value of quality in education, on demand for health insurance and health services, and on the relative efficiency of various approaches to the production of health and health services.  He has also been one of the primary designers and collectors of several important health and nutrition data sets.  A very large number of other researchers have been able to do important research related to developing countries because of the existence of the extensive, often longitudinal, data sets collected for The Philippines, China, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Jamaica, and Thailand by Dr. Akin and his colleagues at the Carolina Population Center (CPC).

Dr. Akin and his coauthors have recently finished a set of papers investigating decentralization of the control of health systems to the local level in low income nations.  He also was Principal Investigator of a recently completed National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded study of the Chinese health system, emphasizing its changes and their impact on the population.

Dr. Akin has done extensive service at national, university and developmental levels, including such activities as testifying before Congress, helping to organize the annual Technical Session of the World Health Organization, presenting at he plenary lecture at the World Federation of Public Health Associations, serving as a trustee of the Southern Economics Association, and serving as Chair of the UNC Economics Department.