Twenty-first anniversary issue of Health Economics

This issue celebrates the publication of the 21st volume of Health Economics and, with it, the achievements of the journal's founding editors, Alan Maynard and John Hutton.

The world of health economics was far smaller in 1992 when the journal began publication; there were fewer places where health economists could publish their work; the International Health Economics Association (iHEA) was yet to be established and to grow to its current scale, and many of the regional associations and conference series that we are familiar with now had not been created. The first volume of Health Economics had four issues along with a supplement containing a bibliography of economic evaluation. The scale of activity was relatively modest to begin with, and the original editorial team recollect the struggle to attract authors to the new venture. Subsequent years have seen a dramatic growth in the overall quantity of submissions to the journal and commensurate growth in the impact of the papers we have published. Today, we publish 12 issues per year and have around 300 papers submitted to the journal each year.

Although full research articles are at the core of Health Economics, the journal has developed a range of other features and found space for novel initiatives. Health Economics Letters, which was developed in collaboration with iHEA as an e-journal, remains an important part of the contents. Editorials that encourage discussion and dialogue within the profession have always been encouraged, and these have been complemented by debates built around comments and responses on published papers. The regular issue devoted to the proceedings of the European Workshop on Econometrics and Health Economics has made the journal the natural home for innovations in the use of econometrics within health economics, and these workshops are now complemented by Australasian and North American events. The journal values the contributions of those who are new to the field and has been proud to publish the work of the winners of the student prize from the iHEA World Congress. Over the years, Health Economics has published many special issues on specific themes, which often have been highly cited. We welcome ideas for new supplements, so please contact the editors if you would like to suggest one.

Our recent reorganisation of the editorial team, with the move to four editors and a board of associate editors who each handle the review process for a selection of papers that are relevant for their areas of expertise, has been hugely beneficial, and we believe that their handling of papers has improved the service we provide to authors.

Looking forward, it is clear that the world of scientific publishing is changing, along with the way that people get access to and use information (through their smart phones, tablets and so on). We can foresee the end of a traditional print format journals and a world of online-only publication. The new technology provides expanded possibilities for supplementary materials and greater interaction between researchers and their audience. If you have your own views on how the journal should develop in response to this changing environment, please feel to contact us through the editorial office. We are keen to get your feedback.

To mark the 21st anniversary, this issue contains a set of specially commissioned articles. We asked the founding editors Alan Maynard and John Hutton to each prepare a paper, and to accompany these, we have commissioned contributions by distinguished figures within health economics and from the broader worlds of economics and of health policy. In commissioning these articles, we were aiming for a spread of styles from the more academic to the more personal reflections on the use of health economic evaluation in practice. We are delighted to have papers by Carolyn Clancy, James Heckman, Carole Longson, Carol Propper, Uwe Reinhardt, Jacques van der Gaag and Vid Stimac. We hope that you will find their insightful and broad-ranging contributions of interest.

To conclude, we would like to thank the many colleagues who have helped to develop Health Economics into a successful journal over the past two decades. In particular, we are grateful for the professionalism of our reviewers who provide timely and thoughtful advice and help us to maintain an average turnaround time for papers that compares favourably with many other journals within economics. Most of all, we should like to thank Frances Sharp who runs the editorial office for the journal with great efficiency and patience and manages to keep us all in line.