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On fatalistic long-term health behavior

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  • Macé, Serge
  • Le Lec, Fabrice

Abstract

Many adults have an overly pessimistic view of old age because they fail to correctly predict their ability to hedonically adapt to old-age health related problems. A standard utility model where the marginal utility of health is higher at a lower level of health predicts that this overly pessimist view raises the incentive for healthy behavior. But this is at odds with empirical research that indicates that people with more negative aging stereotypes tend to adopt less healthy practices, transforming this negative view into a self-fulfilling prophecy. The aim of this note is to show that this fatalistic behavior can be explained through prospect theory by modelling this overly pessimistic view of old age as a failure to predict the change in the reference point due to hedonic adaptation. Given the diminishing sensitivity in the loss domain, people undervalue the future marginal value of health investment and may therefore underinvest in health as long as loss aversion is not too strong.

Suggested Citation

  • Macé, Serge & Le Lec, Fabrice, 2011. "On fatalistic long-term health behavior," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 434-439, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:32:y:2011:i:3:p:434-439
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Octave Jokung & Serge Macé, 2013. "Long-term health investment when people underestimate their adaptation to old age-related health problems," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 14(6), pages 1003-1013, December.

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