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Socio-economic status, health and lifestyle

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  • Contoyannis, Paul
  • Jones, Andrew M.

Abstract

The role of lifestyle in mediating the relationship between socio-economic characteristics and and health has been discussed extensively in the epidemiological and economic literatures. Previous analyses have not considered a formal framework incorporating unobservable heterogeneity. In this paper we develop a simple economic model in which health is determined (partially) by lifestyle, which depends on preferences, budget and time constraints and unobservable characteristics. We estimate a recursive empirical specification consisting of a health production function and reduced forms for the lifestyle equations using Maximum Simulated Likelihood for a multivariate probit model with discrete indicators of lifestyle choices and self-assessed health (SAH) on British panel data from the 1984 and 1991 Health and Lifestyle Survey. We find that prudent drinking and not smoking in 1984 have dramatic positive effects on the probability of reporting excellent or good SAH in 1991. The failure of epidemiological analyses to account for unobserved heterogeneity can explain their low estimates of the relevance of lifestyle in the socio-economic status-health relationship. Accounting for unobserved heterogeneity also leads us to conclude that indicators for sleep, exercise and breakfast in 1984 are unimportant for SAH in 1991.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 23 (2004)
Issue (Month): 5 (September)
Pages: 965-995

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:23:y:2004:i:5:p:965-995

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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