Low Income And Poor Health Choices:The Example Of Smoking
People with low incomes tend to make less healthy consumption choices than do high income people. In the case of food, agricultural economists have investigated whether this is due to the cost of a healthy diet. Studies of various aspects of the nutrition-income nexus have generally been inconclusive. We investigate a different possibility, motivated by the fact that low income individuals are most likely to be smokers, which cannot be due to limited budgets. Drawing on a body of related literature, we develop a model in which income serves not only as a budget constraint but also as a source of future utility. We test the model by estimating logistic models of beginning and quitting smoking. We find support for the idea that low income consumers make less healthy choices because they face lower costs in terms of foregone future utility.
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