IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Incentives to Be Healthy: An Economic Model of Health-related Behaviour


  • S Birch
  • G Stoddart


Increasing attention is being paid to the non-health-care influences on population health status. Policy recommendations and emerging from this interest have tended to focus on providing equal opportunity to attain good health. In this sense policies have tended to be ‘enabling’ with little attention paid to the incentives facing individual to adopt the health behavioural patterns. In this paper we develop a model of individual behaviour based on standard economic theory. First order conditions are derived for the optimal level of participation in health- related activities. Particular attention is focused in the impacts of behavioural patterns on future health and the consequences for individual well- being. The literature of other behavioural science is drawn upon to enhance the ability of the model to explain and predict individual behaviour. The predictions are found to be consistent with observations of individual behaviour reported in the literature. The policy implications of the model are discussed. Attention is drawn to the need to understand the heath related behaviour of the victims of poor health as opposed to blaming them for not responding to opportunities to behave in way more conducive to producing health. Otherwise well-intentioned policies aimed at reducing inequalities in health may be counterproductive. If policy makers are interested in changing individual behaviour then it is essential that polices are designed which make such behavioural change in the best interest of the individuals concerned.

Suggested Citation

  • S Birch & G Stoddart, 1991. "Incentives to Be Healthy: An Economic Model of Health-related Behaviour," Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis Working Paper Series 24, Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis (CHEPA), McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.
  • Handle: RePEc:hpa:wpaper:24

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Michael Lee Ganz, 2001. "Family health effects: complements or substitutes," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(8), pages 699-714.
    2. Stephen Birch & Joy Melnikow & Miriam Kuppermann, 2003. "Conservative versus aggressive follow up of mildly abnormal Pap smears: Testing for process utility," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(10), pages 879-884.
    3. Birch, Stephen & Gafni, Amiram, 2003. "Economics and the evaluation of health care programmes: generalisability of methods and implications for generalisability of results," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 207-219, May.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hpa:wpaper:24. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lyn Sauberli). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.