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Valuing Pain using the Subjective Well-being Method

Listed author(s):
  • Thorhildur Ólafsdóttir
  • Tinna Laufey Ásgeirsdóttir
  • Edward C. Norton

Chronic pain clearly lowers utility, but it is empirically challenging to estimate the monetary compensation needed to offset this utility reduction. We use the subjective well-being method to estimate the value of pain relief among individuals age 50 and older. We use a sample of 64,205 observations from 4 waves (2008-2014) of the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative individual-level survey data, permitting us to control for individual heterogeneity. Our models, which allow for nonlinear effects in income, show the value of avoiding pain ranging between 56 to 145 USD per day. These results are lower than previously reported, suggesting that the value of pain relief varies by income levels. Thus, previous estimates of the value of pain relief assuming constant monetary compensation for pain across income levels are heavily affected by the highest income level. Furthermore, we find that the value of pain relief increases with pain severity.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 23649.

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Date of creation: Aug 2017
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23649
Note: HC HE
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  1. KNIGHT, John & SONG, Lina & GUNATILAKA, Ramani, 2009. "Subjective well-being and its determinants in rural China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 635-649, December.
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  8. Kapteyn, Arie & Smith, James P. & van Soest, Arthur, 2008. "Dynamics of work disability and pain," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 496-509, March.
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  11. Ambrey, Christopher L. & Fleming, Christopher M., 2014. "The causal effect of income on life satisfaction and the implications for valuing non-market goods," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 131-134.
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