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Health, Wealth and Gender: Do Health Shocks of Husbands and Wives Have Different Impacts on Household Wealth?


  • Jennifer Ward-Batts

    (Claremont McKenna College)


The extent to which men’s versus women’s health affects household wealth and the mechanisms through which these effects occur have important implications for the welfare of older individuals living with a spouse, and in particular for women who are likely to outlive their husbands by several years. Intermediate mechanisms through which individual health shocks may affect household wealth are discussed. Four waves of HRS data on married couples are used to estimate the direct effect of onset of various health conditions on household wealth, with these effects allowed to differ for husbands and wives. Estimates using only wave 2 health shocks (controlling for baseline health) indicate that the impact of a health shock to the wife has a larger negative impact than a health shock to the husband, which is consistent with prior work. Estimates in which health shocks from waves 2-4 are allowed for produce conflicting results. Further research is required to ascertain the reason for this apparent conflict.

Suggested Citation

  • Jennifer Ward-Batts, 2001. "Health, Wealth and Gender: Do Health Shocks of Husbands and Wives Have Different Impacts on Household Wealth?," Working Papers wp016, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp016

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Shelly Lundberg & Jennifer Ward-Batts, 2000. "Saving for Retirement: Household Bargaining and Household Net Worth," Working Papers 0026, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
    2. James P. Smith, 1999. "Healthy Bodies and Thick Wallets: The Dual Relation between Health and Economic Status," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 145-166, Spring.
    3. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sergi Jiménez-Martín & José M. Labeaga & Cristina Vilaplana Prieto, "undated". "A sequential model for older workers’ labor transitions after a health shock," Working Papers 2005-23, FEDEA.
    2. Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Kumar, Neha & Behrman, Julia A., 2011. "Do shocks affect men's and women's assets differently?: A review of literature and new evidence from Bangladesh and Uganda," IFPRI discussion papers 1113, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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