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

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  • David M. 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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Suggested Citation

  • David M. Cutler & Edward Glaeser, 2005. "What Explains Differences in Smoking, Drinking, and Other Health-Related Behaviors?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 238-242, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:95:y:2005:i:2:p:238-242
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282805774670464
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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 223-255, March-Apr.
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    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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