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The triumph of hope over regret: A note on the utility value of good health expectations

In this paper we compare three theories of utility formation: prospect theory, regret theory, and a combination which additionally allows for direct utility flows from positive expectations. We then test which of these theories best explains actual connections between health and welfare over time, using a rich Australian data set on health expectations, economic behavior, and well-being. We find evidence supporting a much stronger utility impact of health expectations than of regret regarding health. Our results support the idea than unless individuals are able to alter their future health outcomes by changing their behavior, a benevolent health care provider should only provide good information about the future.

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File URL: http://www.uq.edu.au/economics/abstract/451.pdf
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Paper provided by School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia in its series Discussion Papers Series with number 451.

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Date of creation: 31 Jan 2012
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Handle: RePEc:qld:uq2004:451
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  1. Alex Michalos & Bruno Zumbo & Anita Hubley, 2000. "Health and the Quality of Life," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 245-286, September.
  2. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Dhami, Sanjit & al-Nowaihi, Ali, 2007. "Why do people pay taxes? Prospect theory versus expected utility theory," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 171-192, September.
  4. Groot, Wim, 2000. "Adaptation and scale of reference bias in self-assessments of quality of life," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 403-420, May.
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  6. Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2001. "Psychological Expected Utility Theory And Anticipatory Feelings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 55-79, February.
  7. Christopher D. Carroll & Jody Overland & David N. Weil, 1995. "Saving and growth with habit formation," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 95-42, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. John List, 2004. "Neoclassical theory versus prospect theory: Evidence from the marketplace," Framed Field Experiments 00174, The Field Experiments Website.
  9. Koszegi, Botond & Rabin, Matthew, 2008. "Choices, situations, and happiness," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1821-1832, August.
  10. Senik, Claudia, 2006. "Is man doomed to progress?," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 0608, CEPREMAP.
  11. Lixin Cai & Guyonne Kalb, 2006. "Health status and labour force participation: evidence from Australia," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(3), pages 241-261.
  12. Nicole Watson & Mark Wooden, 2004. "The HILDA Survey Four Years On," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 37(3), pages 343-349, 09.
  13. Loewenstein, George, 1987. "Anticipation and the Valuation of Delayed Consumption," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(387), pages 666-84, September.
  14. Loomes, Graham & Sugden, Robert, 1982. "Regret Theory: An Alternative Theory of Rational Choice under Uncertainty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(368), pages 805-24, December.
  15. Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2009. "Reference-Dependent Consumption Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 909-36, June.
  16. Gollier, Christian & Muermann, Alexander, 2006. "Optimal choice and beliefs with ex ante savoring and ex post disappointment," CFS Working Paper Series 2006/28, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  17. Koszegi, Botond, 2003. "Health anxiety and patient behavior," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(6), pages 1073-1084, November.
  18. Gul, Faruk, 1991. "A Theory of Disappointment Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 667-86, May.
  19. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  20. Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2004. "The supply of information by a concerned expert," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 487-505, 07.
  21. Leslie I. Boden & Monica Galizzi, 2003. "Income Losses of Women and Men Injured at Work," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(3).
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