Call for Papers

June 2020

Beyond COVID-19: Improving Population Health, Public Health, and Health Care

A Message from the Editor

The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching health and economic effects in the United States in a relatively brief time – more than 115,000 lives lost and over 40 million unemployed.  With each passing day, it becomes increasingly evident that these effects will be long-lasting, with the dual threat of new waves of infection and slow economic recovery.  The epidemic also has laid bare the limitations of our nation’s public health system to respond to emergencies as well as the inherent weakness of our health care system to deliver care equitably to all residents.  The pandemic’s effects have been further amplified by the failure of our national leaders to organize an effective, coordinated response.  At least 20 states are experiencing increased infection rates as they reopen commercially before the coronavirus is contained and an effective vaccine or cure can be produced.

For the foreseeable future, we are living in a COVID-19 world.  Those disproportionately affected by the pandemic – low-income individuals of color, especially those with underlying chronic illnesses – also are the most disadvantaged by poverty and other social drivers of health.  As we attempt to recover from the pandemic and its economic effects, we need to recognize that economic recovery in the absence of health equity will only perpetuate longstanding historical injustices.  And the senseless murder of George Floyd by police officers, which has heightened public awareness of racial inequities and galvanized a protest movement for long overdue social change, underscores a fact well known by population health researchers – that health equity cannot be attained without addressing racial injustice.  To improve the health of the American population, we need to end structural racism and mitigate the effects of other foundational social drivers of population health.

This is a defining moment in American history filled with both exceptional promise and great uncertainty.  Can we gather the political will to confront and abolish racism and discrimination in all aspects of society?  Can we successfully foster equity within our economic, social, and health care systems?  Can we act on lessons from other nations that could improve population health and well-being?  We must not allow past failures to constrain our imagination to think anew about necessary policy reforms and effective strategies for achieving lasting social change.  While universal coverage is essential for assuring equitable treatment of historically marginalized and underrepresented groups, it constitutes only a part of any COVID-19 recovery plan.  It is imperative that we tackle the intractable upstream policy drivers of population health.  If ever there was a time for action, it is now – and if ever there was a reason, it is that the future of our democracy is at stake.

Call for Papers

As a leading multidisciplinary journal of population health and health policy, The Milbank Quarterly is committed to applying the best empirical research to practical policymaking regarding population health.  The need for sound evidence to guide pragmatic decision making in the policy arena has never been greater.

In this call for papers, we seek manuscripts that analyze national or state-level policies and strategies in three broad areas: population health; public health infrastructure; and health care.  Our focus is on original research that can directly inform policymakers and policymaking in health and social sectors.

Improving Population Health

Of particular interest are analyses of upstream policies in the United States or in an individual state that:

Improving the Public Health Infrastructure

Of particular interest are analyses of policies or strategies either nationally or in an individual state that:

Improving the Health Care System

The pandemic has presented us with an extraordinary opportunity to reimagine our health care system in ways that previously were neither possible nor conceivable.  If we return to “normal activity” simply by reverting to a pre-COVID state of affairs, we will have failed to learn from this experience.  Of particular interest are studies of policies or strategies either nationally or in an individual state that:

We recognize that original research of the kind described above requires time to produce, but time is of the essence and we look forward to accepting manuscripts on a rolling basis beginning July 1, 2020 and continuing until December 31, 2020.  We welcome analyses involving quantitative, qualitative or mixed-methods approaches as well as systematic reviews.

In addition to original research papers, we also welcome insightful Perspectives on matters related to the three areas outlined above.  To be considered for publication, a Perspective should:

For information regarding the formatting and submission of original research manuscripts and Perspectives, please visit our website for “Instructions for Authors”:


Download the Call for Papers