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Lauderdale Paradox in COVID-19 Pandemic Times- A Study on Kerala


Karl Marx explains the Lauderdale paradox as a contradiction between public wealth and private profit and how the latter increases as the former diminishes. The present paper argues that COVID-19 pandemic has been strengthening the Lauderdale Paradox in the healthcare sector, for example in the state of Kerala in India. Kerala, the most literate state and more advanced than most other states of the country, in terms of social development indicators, experienced progress in the public health system in an impressive way, till the 1980’s and declined thereafter. Higher levels of literacy and public healthcare services are possible because of government expenditure. With improvements in literacy, standards of living and awareness, consumers of healthcare services start demanding more and better quality of the same. However, public healthcare systems do not develop enough. Private players, especially large private hospitals enter and expand their share in the space created in the healthcare sector. This is an instance of unfolding of the Lauderdale paradox in the healthcare sector.

The present study explains the increasing domination of private hospitals in the healthcare sector development in Kerala, against the backdrop of the Marxian theory. Health is treated like a commodity and offered for sale with mainly profit motive. This trend is strengthened during the pandemic times. A few suggestions for further research in this exciting area of study are given at the end of the paper.

Keywords: Lauderdale Paradox, Healthcare sector, Private hospitals.