Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Investment


Is existing provision of health services in Europe affordable during the recession or could cuts damage economic growth? This debate centres on whether government spending has positive or negative effects on economic growth. In this study, we evaluate the economic effects of alternative types of government spending by estimating “fiscal multipliers” (the return on investment for each $1 dollar of government spending).

Concepts: Medicine, Economics, Investment, Gross domestic product, Macroeconomics, Late-2000s recession, Rate of return, Government spending


Interoception is the sensing of physiological signals originating inside the body, such as hunger, pain and heart rate. People with greater sensitivity to interoceptive signals, as measured by, for example, tests of heart beat detection, perform better in laboratory studies of risky decision-making. However, there has been little field work to determine if interoceptive sensitivity contributes to success in real-world, high-stakes risk taking. Here, we report on a study in which we quantified heartbeat detection skills in a group of financial traders working on a London trading floor. We found that traders are better able to perceive their own heartbeats than matched controls from the non-trading population. Moreover, the interoceptive ability of traders predicted their relative profitability, and strikingly, how long they survived in the financial markets. Our results suggest that signals from the body - the gut feelings of financial lore - contribute to success in the markets.

Concepts: Risk, Economics, Decision theory, Sense, Heart rate, Investment, Stock market, Finance


The dramatic rise in chronically ill patients on permanent disability benefits threatens the sustainability of social security in high-income countries. Social insurance organizations have started to invest in promising, but costly return to work (RTW) coordination programmes. The benefit, however, remains uncertain. We conducted a systematic review to determine the long-term effectiveness of RTW coordination compared to usual practice in patients at risk for long-term disability.

Concepts: Medicine, Risk, Randomized controlled trial, Investment, Insurance, Finance, Social security, Social insurance


The 2008-2012 global financial crisis began with the global recession in December 2007 and exacerbated in September 2008, during which the U.S. stock markets lost 20% of value from its October 11 2007 peak. Various studies reported that financial crisis are associated with increase in both cross-correlations among stocks and stock indices and the level of systemic risk. In this paper, we study 10 different Dow Jones economic sector indexes, and applying principle component analysis (PCA) we demonstrate that the rate of increase in principle components with short 12-month time windows can be effectively used as an indicator of systemic risk-the larger the change of PC1, the higher the increase of systemic risk. Clearly, the higher the level of systemic risk, the more likely a financial crisis would occur in the near future.

Concepts: Risk, Principal component analysis, Investment, Financial crisis, Bank run, Stock market, Subprime mortgage crisis, Stock exchange


The economic and fiscal crisis of 2008 has erupted into the debate on the sustainability of health systems; some countries, such as Spain, have implemented strong policies of fiscal consolidation and austerity. The institutional framework and governance model of the national health system (NHS) after its devolution to regions in 2002 had significant weaknesses, which were not apparent in the rapid growth stage but which have been clearly visible since 2010. In this article, we describe the changes in government regulation from the national and NHS perspective: both general changes (clearly prompted by the economic authorities), and those more specifically addressed to healthcare. The Royal Decree-Law 16/2012 represents the centerpiece of austerity policies in healthcare but also implies a rupture with existing political consensus and a return to social security models. Our characterization of austerity in healthcare explores impacts on savings, services, and on the healthcare model itself, although the available information only allows some indications. The conclusions highlight the need to change the path of linear, rapid and radical budget cuts, providing a time-frame for implementing key reforms in terms of internal sustainability; to do so, it is appropriate to restore political and institutional consensus, to emphasize «clinical management» and divestment of inappropriate services (approach to the medical profession and its role as micro-manager), and to create frameworks of good governance and organizational innovations that support these structural reforms.

Concepts: Health economics, Medicine, Universal health care, Healthcare, Law, Investment, Implementation, Social security


Global investment in biomedical research has grown significantly over the last decades, reaching approximately a quarter of a trillion US dollars in 2010. However, not all of this investment is distributed evenly by gender. It follows, arguably, that scarce research resources may not be optimally invested (by either not supporting the best science or by failing to investigate topics that benefit women and men equitably). Women across the world tend to be significantly underrepresented in research both as researchers and research participants, receive less research funding, and appear less frequently than men as authors on research publications. There is also some evidence that women are relatively disadvantaged as the beneficiaries of research, in terms of its health, societal and economic impacts. Historical gender biases may have created a path dependency that means that the research system and the impacts of research are biased towards male researchers and male beneficiaries, making it inherently difficult (though not impossible) to eliminate gender bias. In this commentary, we - a group of scholars and practitioners from Africa, America, Asia and Europe - argue that gender-sensitive research impact assessment could become a force for good in moving science policy and practice towards gender equity. Research impact assessment is the multidisciplinary field of scientific inquiry that examines the research process to maximise scientific, societal and economic returns on investment in research. It encompasses many theoretical and methodological approaches that can be used to investigate gender bias and recommend actions for change to maximise research impact. We offer a set of recommendations to research funders, research institutions and research evaluators who conduct impact assessment on how to include and strengthen analysis of gender equity in research impact assessment and issue a global call for action.

Concepts: Scientific method, Gender, Science, Research, Investment, Bias, Rate of return


It is widely known that financial markets can become dangerously unstable, yet it is unclear why. Recent research has highlighted the possibility that endogenous hormones, in particular testosterone and cortisol, may critically influence traders' financial decision making. Here we show that cortisol, a hormone that modulates the response to physical or psychological stress, predicts instability in financial markets. Specifically, we recorded salivary levels of cortisol and testosterone in people participating in an experimental asset market (N = 142) and found that individual and aggregate levels of endogenous cortisol predict subsequent risk-taking and price instability. We then administered either cortisol (single oral dose of 100 mg hydrocortisone, N = 34) or testosterone (three doses of 10 g transdermal 1% testosterone gel over 48 hours, N = 41) to young males before they played an asset trading game. We found that both cortisol and testosterone shifted investment towards riskier assets. Cortisol appears to affect risk preferences directly, whereas testosterone operates by inducing increased optimism about future price changes. Our results suggest that changes in both cortisol and testosterone could play a destabilizing role in financial markets through increased risk taking behaviour, acting via different behavioural pathways.

Concepts: Decision making, Hormone, Risk, Economics, Decision theory, Cortisol, Investment, Finance


Studies suggest that increased breastfeeding rates can provide substantial financial savings, but the scale of such savings in the UK is not known.

Concepts: Economics, United Kingdom, Investment, Anarchy in the U.K., Decolonization


Public sector austerity measures in many high-income countries mean that public health budgets are reducing year on year. To help inform the potential impact of these proposed disinvestments in public health, we set out to determine the return on investment (ROI) from a range of existing public health interventions.

Concepts: Public health, Investment, Net present value, Rate of return, Internal rate of return, Future value


Scientific productivity of middle income countries correlates stronger with present and future wealth than indices reflecting its financial, social, economic or technological sophistication. We identify the contribution of the relative productivity of different scientific disciplines in predicting the future economic growth of a nation. Results show that rich and poor countries differ in the relative proportion of their scientific output in the different disciplines: countries with higher relative productivity in basic sciences such as physics and chemistry had the highest economic growth in the following five years compared to countries with a higher relative productivity in applied sciences such as medicine and pharmacy. Results suggest that the economies of middle income countries that focus their academic efforts in selected areas of applied knowledge grow slower than countries which invest in general basic sciences.

Concepts: Scientific method, Physics, Chemistry, Economics, Science, Investment, Social sciences, Science fiction