Health and Economic Behaviour: a Critical Survey of the Literature
The purpose of this paper is to give a brief overview of the relevant literature on health economics. Theoretical and empirical researches are reviewed to examine the traditional perception of health and pro- vide some general intuition of why the study of the individual eco- nomic behaviour is important in the ¯eld of health. Health, wealth and lifestyles are intimately linked through a complex bidirectional re- lationship. Economists have contributed much at its understanding and have overcome the limits of the medical and epidemiological approaches. This survey concentrates on the main estimation problems found in the health production function approach. Econometric methods that take account of reverse causation, unobservable heterogeneity and endogene- ity are needed to recover the genuine causal e®ect of socio-economic factors and health-related behaviours on health. Finally, this survey looks at inequality in health as an urgent public interest issue and sug- gests to disentangle the causes of health inequalities from an economic perspective.
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