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Inheritances, Health and Death

  • Beomsoo Kim
  • Christopher J. Ruhm

We examine how wealth shocks, in the form of inheritances, affect the mortality rates, health status and health behaviors of older adults, using data from eight waves of the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS). Our main finding is that bequests do not have substantial effects on health, although some improvements in quality-of-life are possible. This absence occurs despite increases in out-of-pocket (OOP) spending on health care and in the utilization of medical services, especially discretionary and non-lifesaving types such as dental care. Nor can we find a convincing indication of changes in lifestyles that offset the benefits of increased medical care. Inheritances are associated with higher alcohol consumption, but with no change in smoking or exercise and a possible decrease in obesity.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15364.

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Date of creation: Sep 2009
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Publication status: published as Beomsoo Kim & Christopher J. Ruhm, 2012. "Inheritances, health and death," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(2), pages 127-144, 02.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15364
Note: AG HC HE
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