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Tobacco Use as Response to Economic Insecurity: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth

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  • Barnes Michael G

    ()
    (Hartford Life)

  • Smith Trenton G.

    ()
    (Washington State University)

Abstract

Emerging evidence from neuroscience and clinical research suggests a novel hypothesis about tobacco use: consumers may choose to smoke, in part, as a "self-medicating" response to the presence of economic insecurity. To test this hypothesis, we examine the effect of economic insecurity (roughly, the risk of catastrophic income loss) on the smoking behavior of a sample of male working-age smokers from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79). Using instrumental variables to control for unobserved heterogeneity, we find that economic insecurity has a large and statistically significant positive effect on the decision to continue or resume smoking. Our results indicate, for example, that a 1 percent increase in the probability of becoming unemployed causes an individual to be 2.4 percent more likely to continue smoking. We find that the explanatory power of economic insecurity in predicting tobacco use is comparable to (but distinct from) household income, a more commonly used metric.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.

Volume (Year): 9 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (November)
Pages: 1-29

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:9:y:2009:i:1:n:47

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Cited by:
  1. Ásgeirsdóttir, Tinna Laufey & Corman, Hope & Noonan, Kelly & Ólafsdóttir, Þórhildur & Reichman, Nancy E., 2014. "Was the economic crisis of 2008 good for Icelanders? Impact on health behaviors," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 1-19.
  2. Trenton Smith, 2006. "Reconciling Psychology with Economics - Obesity, Behavioral Biology, and Rational Overeating," Working Papers, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University 2006-4, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.
  3. Irina Grafova, 2011. "Financial Strain and Smoking," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 327-340, June.
  4. Tinna Laufey Ásgeirsdóttir & Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Þórhildur Ólafsdóttir & Nancy E. Reichman, 2012. "Are Recessions Good for Your Health Behaviors? Impacts of the Economic Crisis in Iceland," NBER Working Papers 18233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Yu-Fu Chen & Dennis Petrie, 2012. "When to Quit Under Uncertainty? A real options approach to smoking cessation," Dundee Discussion Papers in Economics, Economic Studies, University of Dundee 272, Economic Studies, University of Dundee.

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