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Approaches to Estimating the Health State Dependence of the Utility Function

Author

Listed:
  • Finkelstein, Amy

    (MIT)

  • Luttmer, Erzo F.P.

    (Dartmouth College)

  • Notowidigdo, Matthew J.

    (Northwestern University)

Abstract

If the marginal utility of consumption depends on health status, this will affect the economic analysis of a number of central problems in public finance, including the optimal structure of health insurance and optimal life cycle savings. In this paper, we describe the promises and challenges of various approaches to estimating the effect of health on the marginal utility of consumption. Our basic conclusion is that while none of these approaches is a panacea, many offer the potential to shed important insights on the nature of health state dependence.

Suggested Citation

  • Finkelstein, Amy & Luttmer, Erzo F.P. & Notowidigdo, Matthew J., 2009. "Approaches to Estimating the Health State Dependence of the Utility Function," IZA Discussion Papers 3925, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3925
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Amy Finkelstein & Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Matthew J. Notowidigdo, 2013. "What Good Is Wealth Without Health? The Effect Of Health On The Marginal Utility Of Consumption," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11, pages 221-258, January.
    2. Sloan, Frank A. & Kip Viscusi, W. & Chesson, Harrell W. & Conover, Christopher J. & Whetten-Goldstein, Kathryn, 1998. "Alternative approaches to valuing intangible health losses: the evidence for multiple sclerosis1," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 475-497, August.
    3. Alma Cohen & Liran Einav, 2007. "Estimating Risk Preferences from Deductible Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 745-788, June.
    4. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2005. "Differential mortality, uncertain medical expenses, and the saving of elderly singles," Working Paper Series WP-05-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    5. John Rust & Christopher Phelan, 1997. "How Social Security and Medicare Affect Retirement Behavior in a World of Incomplete Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 781-832, July.
    6. Evans, William N & Viscusi, W Kip, 1991. "Estimation of State-Dependent Utility Functions Using Survey Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(1), pages 94-104, February.
    7. 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.
    8. Edwards, Ryan D, 2008. "Health Risk and Portfolio Choice," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 26, pages 472-485.
    9. Lillard, Lee A & Weiss, Yoram, 1997. "Uncertain Health and Survival: Effects on End-of-Life Consumption," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(2), pages 254-268, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    insurance; health; state dependence; marginal utility;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

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    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

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