The 10th Annual Conference of the American Society of Health Economists (ASHEcon) was held on June 21 – 23, 2021, over zoom. This past conference was the second virtual and the most attended ASHEcon conference, with 1,043 attendees.
About 37% of the attendees were first-time attendees, 46% academics, 26% students, 5% postdocs, 10% government attendees, and 15% in other categories (industry professional, researcher, consultant, retiree, etc.).
Regarding demographics, about 47% of our attendees identify as female and 38% male, while 0.4% identified as nonbinary/third gender. Reported race and ethnicity were asked of the participants. Among those who responded: 51% were White, 23% Asian, 3% Black or African American, 7% Hispanic or Latino, and 0.2% American Indian or Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.
We talked briefly with ASHEcon President David Cutler about his reflections of the conference.
What are the growing areas of health economics research you observed at the conference?
I don’t know that there is only one theme. There were a number of areas that got more attention this year than in past years, obviously infectious diseases but also issues like health care consolidation and health behaviors.
What aspects of the conference were strengthened and weakened by the virtual format?
The virtual format allows more people to attend the conference, with the highest attendance recorded this year. However, I think it is fair to say that people may be less engaged across all of the sessions, given the burnout of virtual conferences.
Will there be any changes to the format of the 2022 ASHEcon conference?
We are still planning what 2022 will look like, so nothing is set in stone.
What steps is ASHEcon taking to ensure that the research of health economists addressing pressing issues of our time (e.g., climate change, social justice) is featured?
In part, we are trying to be very open to younger researchers, who tend to focus on these issues. We have also started an interest group on the economics of health equity, which we are very proud of. More on that will be sent via ASHEcon email.