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The incidence of the healthcare costs of smoking

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  • Cowan, Benjamin
  • Schwab, Benjamin

Abstract

Smokers earn less than non-smokers, but much is still unknown about the source(s) of the smoker's wage gap. We build on the work of Bhattacharya and Bundorf (2009), who provide evidence that obese workers receive lower wages on account of their higher expected healthcare costs. Similarly, we find that smokers who hold employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI) receive significantly lower wages than their non-smoking peers, while smokers who are not insured through their employer endure no such wage penalty. Our results have two implications: first, the incidence of smokers’ elevated medical costs appears to be borne by smokers themselves in the form of lower wages. Second, differences in healthcare costs between smokers and non-smokers are a significant source of the smoker's wage gap.

Suggested Citation

  • Cowan, Benjamin & Schwab, Benjamin, 2011. "The incidence of the healthcare costs of smoking," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1094-1102.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:30:y:2011:i:5:p:1094-1102
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2011.07.003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bhattacharya, Jay & Bundorf, M. Kate, 2009. "The incidence of the healthcare costs of obesity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 649-658, May.
    2. Miller, Vincent P. & Ernst, Carla & Collin, François, 1999. "Smoking-attributable medical care costs in the USA," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 375-391, February.
    3. van Ours, Jan C., 2004. "A pint a day raises a man's pay; but smoking blows that gain away," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 863-886, September.
    4. Jonathan Gruber, 2010. "The Tax Exclusion for Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance," NBER Working Papers 15766, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. van Ours, Jan C, 2002. "A Pint a Day Raises a Man's Pay; But Smoking Blows that Gain Away," CEPR Discussion Papers 3308, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. M. Christopher Auld, 2005. "Smoking, Drinking, and Income," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(2).
    7. W. Kip Viscusi & Joni Hersch, 2001. "Cigarette Smokers As Job Risk Takers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 269-280, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Cowan, Benjamin & Schwab, Benjamin, 2016. "Employer-sponsored health insurance and the gender wage gap," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 103-114.
    2. Cowan Benjamin & Tefft Nathan, 2012. "Education, Maternal Smoking, and the Earned Income Tax Credit," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-39, October.
    3. Vidhura Tennekoon & Robert Rosenman, 2013. "Bias in Measuring Smoking Behavior," Working Papers 2013-10, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Smoking; Wages; Employer-sponsored health insurance; Compensating differential;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination

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