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Do Smokers Value Their Health and Longevity Less?

Listed author(s):
  • Ahmed Khwaja
  • Frank Sloan
  • Yang Wang

One reason why individuals consume harmful addictive goods is that the "full" price of such goods is low. Using data on adults specifically collected for this study, we examine the internal cost of one such good by estimating the value that smokers and nonsmokers place on loss of health and longevity from a major lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Differences in the nonpecuniary internal cost of getting COPD between current smokers and people who have never smoked range from $80,000 to $260,000, implying that one reason people continue to smoke is that they face a lower full price of smoking. Our results suggest that although taxation and regulation of cigarettes may be justified for externality reasons, the principle of consumer sovereignty implies that the case is much weaker for interventions based on helping smokers internalize costs they impose on themselves. (c) 2009 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/589655
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 52 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (02)
Pages: 171-196

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:52:y:2009:i:1:p:171-196
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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  1. Kevin M. Murphy & Robert H. Topel, 2005. "The Value of Health and Longevity," NBER Working Papers 11405, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Paul R. Portney, 1994. "The Contingent Valuation Debate: Why Economists Should Care," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 3-17, Fall.
  3. Wesley A. Magat & W. Kip Viscusi & Joel Huber, 1996. "A Reference Lottery Metric for Valuing Health," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 42(8), pages 1118-1130, August.
  4. Ahmed Khwaja & Dan Silverman & Frank Sloan, 2006. "Time Preference, Time Discounting, and Smoking Decisions," NBER Working Papers 12615, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Kan, Kamhon, 2007. "Cigarette smoking and self-control," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 61-81, January.
  6. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2002. "Changes in the Value of Life: 1940-1980," NBER Working Papers 9396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. repec:uwp:jhriss:v:30:y:1995:p:s7-s56 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Rosemary Avery & Donald Kenkel & Dean R. Lillard & Alan Mathios, 2007. "Private Profits and Public Health: Does Advertising of Smoking Cessation Products Encourage Smokers to Quit?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 447-481.
  9. W. Michael Hanemann, 1994. "Valuing the Environment through Contingent Valuation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 19-43, Fall.
  10. Peter A. Diamond & Jerry A. Hausman, 1994. "Contingent Valuation: Is Some Number Better than No Number?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 45-64, Fall.
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  12. Viscusi, W Kip, 1990. "Do Smokers Underestimate Risks?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1253-1269, December.
  13. Viscusi, W Kip & Evans, William N, 1990. "Utility Functions That Depend on Health Status: Estimates and Economic Implications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 353-374, June.
  14. Blondel, Serge & Loheac, Youenn & Rinaudo, Stephane, 2007. "Rationality and drug use: An experimental approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 643-658, May.
  15. Perreira, Krista M & Sloan, Frank A, 2002. "Living Healthy and Living Long: Valuing the Nonpecuniary Loss from Disability and Death," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 5-29, January.
  16. Khwaja, Ahmed & Sloan, Frank & Salm, Martin, 2006. "Evidence on preferences and subjective beliefs of risk takers: The case of smokers," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 667-682, July.
  17. Viscusi, W Kip & Aldy, Joseph E, 2003. "The Value of a Statistical Life: A Critical Review of Market Estimates throughout the World," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 5-76, August.
  18. Ahmed Khwaja & Frank Sloan & Sukyung Chung, 2007. "The relationship between individual expectations and behaviors: Mortality expectations and smoking decisions," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 179-201, October.
  19. Gary S. Becker & Casey B. Mulligan, 1997. "The Endogenous Determination of Time Preference," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 729-758.
  20. Khwaja, Ahmed & Silverman, Dan & Sloan, Frank & Wang, Yang, 2007. "Smoking, wealth accumulation and the propensity to plan," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 96-103, January.
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