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What Explains Differences in Smoking, Drinking and Other Health-Related Behaviors?

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  • David Cutler
  • Edward Glaeser

Abstract

We explore economic model of health behaviors. While the standard economic model of health as an investment is generally supported empirically, the ability of this model to explain heterogeneity across individuals is extremely limited. Most prominently, the correlation of different health behaviors across people is virtually zero, suggest that standard factors such as variation in discount rates or the value of life are not the drivers of behavior. We focus instead on two other factors: genetics; and behavioral-specific situational factors. The first factor is empirically important, and we suspect the second is as well.

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File URL: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/pub/hier/2005/HIER2060.pdf
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Paper provided by Harvard - Institute of Economic Research in its series Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers with number 2060.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:2060

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  1. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
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