Health and Political Economy Project

The Health and Political Economy Project (HPEP) is catalyzing action toward an economy that enables all people to have what they need to experience wellbeing.

Through field-building and organizing initiatives, we seek to create a forward-oriented community — and roadmap for change — in pursuit of this vision. 

Our challenge: Inequities, maintained through outdated economic ideas, structural racism, and powerful interests, have left too many people vulnerable to preventable sickness and premature death. 

Currently in its start-up phase, HPEP is Co-Chaired by Dr. Dave A. Chokshi (Sternberg Family Professor of Leadership at City College of New York and former NYC Health Commissioner) and Professor Darrick Hamilton (founding Director, Institute for Race, Power, and Political Economy), with Dr. Victor Roy as Director (physician, sociologist, and incoming Assistant Professor at University of Pennsylvania). 

The initiative is housed at the Institute for Race, Power, and Political Economy at the New School for Social Research. The integration of HPEP with the Institute is purposeful, given how foundational racial equity and mobilizing political power are towards a more just economy and health system.


The U.S. is amid a decades-long population health crisis, with millions of ‘birthdays lost’ each year, compared to peer nations. The world is emerging from a devastating pandemic with tragic and unequal loss of life. These outcomes are associated with a prevailing economic paradigm, dominated by free market thinking and individualistic cultural narratives, that has deeply influenced contemporary society in recent decades — and health is no exception.

Rather than take this paradigm for granted, we view the economy as mutable in the hands of social agents. Economics is inherently intertwined with politics and identity group stratification (by identities such as race, gender, and national origin). How we craft the iterative relationship among these, known as political economy, has profound implications for the well-being of individuals and society. 

The premise of HPEP is that fresh strategy and action can reorient our political economy towards health. We take inspiration from a wider movement to move beyond neoliberalism in arenas like climate and law. 

Initial Areas of Focus

For this re-orientation, we are focusing on initial action in three interconnected areas: capital, care, and culture.

Capital involves prioritizing long-term investments in health that affirmatively include historically marginalized groups. This means shifting from the growing financialization of health to reconnecting finance to population and public health goals. 

Care involves cultivating systems and policies that invest directly in people’s capabilities to realize health across the life-course. This means rewarding caregiving as an economically valuable activity and includes the economic resources needed for social support and opportunity in different life stages, from early childhood programs to baby bonds to elder care. 

Culture refers to the importance of changing hearts and minds about the mutual links between health and the economy. This focus appreciates the power of stories to shift attitudes, and the corresponding need to develop “displacing narratives” that supplant prevailing economic thinking on ideas like ‘deservingness’ and ‘efficiency’. 

Our Approach

We are in an early learning phase of our strategy, which focuses on field-building efforts and organizing initiatives. 

In pursuing this work, we seek to build partnerships with and activate a wider field of scholars, organizers, policy-makers, practitioners, culture-makers and others. 

We will be sharing more as we develop our approach in our start-up phase. 

Recent Updates

Learn more about our lens for health and political economy through an open-access article published in Health Affairs Scholar. We will also be sharing more about our initial partnerships and initiatives in the coming months stay tuned. 

Get in Touch

Feel free to email [email protected]