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Is it vulnerability or economic insecurity that matters for health?

Listed author(s):
  • Rohde, Nicholas
  • Tang, Kam Ki
  • Osberg, Lars
  • Rao, D.S. Prasada

This paper contrasts the mental and physical health impacts of vulnerability and economic insecurity. An individual is vulnerable if they are at risk of future absolute material deprivation, while they are insecure if they are threatened by losses in relative status. Using data from the first eleven waves of the Australian HILDA panel, we generate four alternative measures of real or perceived downside economic risk and employ panel data models to estimate their impacts on SF-36 mental and physical health indices. We test our hypotheses using a series of polynomial interactions which allow the effect sizes to vary non-linearly with income. Baseline estimates show that economic risks have consistently negative consequences for both mental and physical health, with the former effect being around three times the size of the latter. However our main finding is that increasing incomes do little to mitigate the sensitivity of health to these risks. This suggests it is mostly the prospect of loss rather than deprivation that impacts upon wellbeing. The finding is important as it helps distinguish between competing models (i.e. Beveridge vs Bismarck) for social insurance.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016726811630292X
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 134 (2017)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 307-319

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:134:y:2017:i:c:p:307-319
DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2016.12.010
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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  6. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre, 2003. "Social insurance competition between Bismarck and Beveridge," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 181-196, July.
  7. Clark, Andrew & Knabe, Andreas & Rätzel, Steffen, 2010. "Boon or bane? Others' unemployment, well-being and job insecurity," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 52-61, January.
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  16. Amy Finkelstein & Sarah Taubman & Bill Wright & Mira Bernstein & Jonathan Gruber & Joseph P. Newhouse & Heidi Allen & Katherine Baicker, 2012. "The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment: Evidence from the First Year," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1057-1106.
  17. Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy & Watanabe, Naoko, 2003. "On decomposing the causes of health sector inequalities with an application to malnutrition inequalities in Vietnam," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 207-223, January.
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  19. Lars Osberg & Andrew Sharpe, 2014. "Measuring Economic Insecurity in Rich and Poor Nations," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(S1), pages 53-76, 05.
  20. Stefan Dercon, 2005. "Risk, Poverty and Vulnerability in Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 14(4), pages 483-488, December.
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