Markets in mothers’ milk – virtue or vice?

Event details

Date & time

Wednesday 17 December 2014


Seminar Room 1.04, Coombs Extension Building (8), Fellows Road, ANU
ANU Canberra


Dr Julie Smith


Dr Emma Larking
+61 2 6125 1513

Markets in mothers milk are emerging in various forms around the world. Reflecting its importance for infant health, breastmilk sells for over $100 a litre in North America and Europe, and commercial human milk products cost far more. However, women do not necessarily profit from this trend. The growth of such markets raises a number of questions on the economic and market aspects of breastfeeding, its costs and benefits, and who bears them. This presentation will outline the various market incentives and how they may affect infant and young child feeding practices, and discuss key policy and regulatory issues.About the SpeakerDr Julie Smith is a Fellow at the Australian Centre for Economic Research on Health (ACERH), with internationally recognized expertise on the economics of breastfeeding.Julie has a PhD in Economics (ANU), having graduated with a BEc(Hons)/BA (Asian Studies) in 1983. In 2004 she was awarded an ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship to research economics of breastfeeding. In 2014, she was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship to investigate regulation of markets in mothers milk, and economic valuation of breastfeeding. Previously a senior economist in the Australian and New Zealand treasuries, she has also authored numerous articles on public finance and health financing, and two books on tax policy including gambling taxation.Julie has been influential in having consideration of economic aspects of breastfeeding prioritised by leading policymaking bodies. She was an invited expert for the 2007 WHO/UNICEF Western Pacific Regional Consultation on Breastfeeding, the United States’ Surgeon General’s 2009 Call to Action on Breastfeeding, and the Australian Parliament’s Best Start report on Breastfeeding. Her pioneering Australian estimates of the economic value of breastfeeding have been published in leading national and international journals, and her arguments on including mothers’ milk in GDP were endorsed by two Nobel prize winning economists, Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen.Julie also has a research interest in tobacco control, and is health economist on a RCT of a quit smoking intervention.See Julie's ACERH profile for more details.Image by nerissa's ring on Flickr under the CC BY 2.0 license.

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