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Health, income, and risk aversion : assessing some welfare costs of alcoholism and poor health

Author: John Mullahy; Jody Louise Sindelar; National Bureau of Economic Research.
Publisher: Cambridge, MA : National Bureau of Economic Research, [1994]
Series: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), working paper no. 4649.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : National government publication : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Abstract: The economic costs of adverse health outcomes have typically been evaluated in a context of risk neutrality, an approach that ignores the potential welfare importance of individuals' risk preferences. This paper presents a framework that unifies the research in health capital and earnings with that on risk preferences in the presence of stochastic outcomes. The model is implemented to obtain estimates of  Read more...
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Material Type: Document, Government publication, National government publication, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: John Mullahy; Jody Louise Sindelar; National Bureau of Economic Research.
OCLC Number: 70045698
Notes: "February 1994."
"The research reported here has been supported in part by Grant R01AA08394 from the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism ..."
Description: 1 online resource (32 pages).
Series Title: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), working paper no. 4649.
Responsibility: John Mullahy, Jody L. Sindelar.

Abstract:

Abstract: The economic costs of adverse health outcomes have typically been evaluated in a context of risk neutrality, an approach that ignores the potential welfare importance of individuals' risk preferences. This paper presents a framework that unifies the research in health capital and earnings with that on risk preferences in the presence of stochastic outcomes. The model is implemented to obtain estimates of the economic damages due both to general health problems as well as to one specific health problem that is of considerable interest from society's perspective: alcoholism. Our empirical findings, based on data from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area survey, indicate that failure to recognize the possibility of risk averse preferences leads to a potentially serious underestimation of the magnitudes of the 'costs' of alcoholism and poor health. In particular, it is shown that while alcoholism problems have negative impacts on the conditional mean of income (consistent with most of the existing literature), they also have positive impacts on the conditional variance of income. Our conclusions are to some degree provisional because our estimates of conditional variances are necessarily biased to the extent that unobserved heterogeneity is an important determinant of the moment structure of income in our sample.

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