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Pets and Human Health in Germany and Australia: National Longitudinal Results

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  • Headey, Bruce
  • Grabka, Markus M.

Abstract

The German and Australian longitudinal surveys analysed here are the first national representative surveys to show that (1) people who continuously own a pet are the healthiest group and (2) people who cease to have a pet or never had one are less healthy. Most previous studies which have claimed that pets confer health benefits were cross-sectional. So they were open to the objection that owners may have been healthier in the first place, rather than becoming healthier due to owning a pet. In both countries the data show that pet owners make about 15% fewer annual doctor visits than non-owners. The relationship remains statistically significant after controlling for gender, age, marital status, income and other variables associated with health. The German data come from the German Socio-Economic Panel in which respondents have been interviewed every year since 1984 (N = 9723). Australian data come from the Australian National Social Science Survey 2001 (N = 1246).

Suggested Citation

  • Headey, Bruce & Grabka, Markus M., 2007. "Pets and Human Health in Germany and Australia: National Longitudinal Results," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 297-311.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:espost:66146
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Wood, Lisa & Giles-Corti, Billie & Bulsara, Max, 2005. "The pet connection: Pets as a conduit for social capital?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(6), pages 1159-1173, September.
    2. Johannes Schwarze & Hanfried H. Andersen & Silke Anger, 2000. "Self-Rated Health and Changes in Self-Rated Health as Predictors of Mortality: First Evidence from German Panel Data," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 203, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    3. Bruce Headey, 1999. "Health Benefits and Health Cost Savings Due to Pets: Preliminary Estimates from an Australian National Survey," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 47(2), pages 233-243, June.
    4. Elke Holst & Dean R. Lillard & Thomas A. DiPrete, 2001. "Proceedings of the 2000 Fourth International Conference of German Socio-Economic Panel Study Users (GSOEP 2000): Editorial Introduction," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 70(1), pages 5-6.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bruce Headey & Fu Na & Richard Zheng, 2008. "Pet Dogs Benefit Owners’ Health: A ‘Natural Experiment’ in China," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 87(3), pages 481-493, July.
    2. repec:spr:chinre:v:9:y:2016:i:1:d:10.1007_s12187-015-9303-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Mieke Rijken & Sandra Beek, 2011. "About Cats and Dogs … Reconsidering the Relationship Between Pet Ownership and Health Related Outcomes in Community-Dwelling Elderly," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 102(3), pages 373-388, July.
    4. Rebecca Utz, 2014. "Walking the Dog: The Effect of Pet Ownership on Human Health and Health Behaviors," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 116(2), pages 327-339, April.

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    Keywords

    doctor visits; health; panel surveys; pet owners;

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