QALYs, DALYs, and HALYs: A Unifying Framework for the Evaluation of Population Health

Juan D. Moreno-Ternero, Trine Tornøe Platz, Lars Peter Østerdal*

*Corresponding author for this work

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We provide a unifying framework for the evaluation of population health. We formalize several axioms for social preferences over distributions of health. We show that a specific combination of those axioms characterizes a large class of population health evaluation functions combining concerns for quality of life, quantity of life and health shortfalls. We refer to the class as (unweighted) aggregations of health-adjusted life years (HALYs). Two focal (and somewhat polar) members of this family are the (unweighted) aggregations of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), and of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). We also provide new characterization results for these focal members that enable us to scrutinize their normative foundations and shed new light on their similarities and differences.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102714
JournalJournal of Health Economics
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Population health
  • QALYs
  • DALYs
  • HYEs
  • Axioms

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