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Are mature smokers misinformed?

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Author Info

  • Khwaja, Ahmed
  • Silverman, Dan
  • Sloan, Frank
  • Wang, Yang

Abstract

While there are many reasons to continue to smoke in spite of its consequences for health, the concern that many smoke because they misperceive the risks of smoking remains a focus of public discussion and motivates tobacco control policies and litigation. In this paper we investigate the relative accuracy of mature smokers' risk perceptions about future survival, and a range of morbidities and disabilities. Using data from the survey on smoking (SOS) conducted for this research, we compare subjective beliefs elicited from the SOS with corresponding individual-specific objective probabilities estimated from the health and retirement study. Overall, consumers in the age group studied, 50-70, are not overly optimistic in their perceptions of health risk. If anything, smokers tend to be relatively pessimistic about these risks. The finding that smokers are either well informed or pessimistic regarding a broad range of health risks suggests that these beliefs are not pivotal in the decision to continue smoking. Although statements by the tobacco companies may have been misleading and thus encouraged some to start smoking, we find no evidence that systematic misinformation about the health consequences of smoking inhibits quitting.

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Bibliographic Info

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

Volume (Year): 28 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 385-397

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:28:y:2009:i:2:p:385-397

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

Related research

Keywords: Subjective beliefs Mortality Health Smoking;

References

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  1. Li Gan & Michael D. Hurd & Daniel L. McFadden, 2005. "Individual Subjective Survival Curves," NBER Chapters, in: Analyses in the Economics of Aging, pages 377-412 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Smith, V. Kerry & Taylor, Donald H., Jr. & Sloan, Frank A. & Johnson, F. Reed & Desvousges, William H., 2000. "Do Smokers Respond to Health Shocks?," Working Papers 00-08, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  3. Lancaster, Tony, 1979. "Econometric Methods for the Duration of Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(4), pages 939-56, July.
  4. V. Kerry Smith & Donald H. Taylor & Frank A. Sloan, 2001. "Longevity Expectations and Death: Can People Predict Their Own Demise?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1126-1134, September.
  5. Viscusi, W Kip, 1990. "Do Smokers Underestimate Risks?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1253-69, December.
  6. Viscusi, W Kip, 1991. "Age Variations in Risk Perceptions and Smoking Decisions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(4), pages 577-88, November.
  7. Charles F. Manski, 2004. "Measuring Expectations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(5), pages 1329-1376, 09.
  8. W. Kip Viscusi & Jahn Hakes, 2003. "Risk ratings that do not measure probabilities," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 23-43, January.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Trautmann, S.T. & Kuilen, G. van de, 2011. "Belief Elicitation: A Horse Race among Truth Serums," Discussion Paper 2011-117, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  2. Wuppermann, Amelie Catherine, 2011. "Empirical Essays in Health and Education Economics," Munich Dissertations in Economics 13187, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  3. Gerking, S.D. & Khaddaria, R., 2012. "Perceptions of health risk and smoking decisions of young people," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-5327214, Tilburg University.
  4. Schnellenbach, Jan, 2012. "Nudges and norms: On the political economy of soft paternalism," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 266-277.
  5. Joachim Winter & Amelie C. Wuppermann, 2012. "Do they Know what's at Risk? Health Risk Perception among the Obese," CESifo Working Paper Series 3864, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Frank Sloan & Alyssa Platt, 2011. "Information, risk perceptions, and smoking choices of youth," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 42(2), pages 161-193, April.

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