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Do Smokers Respond to Health Shocks?


  • Smith, V. Kerry
  • Taylor, Donald H., Jr.
  • Sloan, Frank A.
  • Johnson, F. Reed
  • Desvousges, William H.


This paper reports the first test of how exogenous health shocks impact people's longevity expectations. The analysis exploits the panel structure of the Health and Retirement Study and tests whether smokers, former smokers and those who never smoked react differently to serious, smoking related health shocks. The results support the conclusion that smokers have a different risk perception process. Smokers were only sensitive to their own smoking related illnesses while former smokers and those who never smoked react to a wider range of health related signals. These findings, along with related research on how smokers react to information messages, suggest that generalized messages about the hazards of smoking may be less effective than information about personal activity restrictions associated with smoking related diseases.

Suggested Citation

  • Smith, V. Kerry & Taylor, Donald H., Jr. & Sloan, Frank A. & Johnson, F. Reed & Desvousges, William H., 2000. "Do Smokers Respond to Health Shocks?," Working Papers 00-08, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:duk:dukeec:00-08

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    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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