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"I'm afraid I have bad news for you…" Estimating the impact of different health impairments on subjective well-being

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  • Martin Binder

    () (Max Planck Institute of Economics)

  • Alex Coad

    (Max Planck Institute of Economics
    SPRU, University of Sussex
    RATIO, Stockholm, Sweden)

Abstract

Bad health decreases individuals' happiness, but few studies measure the impact of specific illnesses. We apply matching estimators to examine how changes in different (objective) conditions of bad health affect subjective well-being for a sample of 100,265 observations from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) database (1996–2006). The strongest effect is for alcohol and drug abuse, followed by anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses, stroke and cancer. Adaptation to health impairments varies across health impairments. There is also a puzzling asymmetry: strong adverse reactions to deteriorations in health appear alongside weak increases in well-being after health improvements. In conclusion, our analysis offers a more detailed account of how bad health influences happiness than accounts focusing on how bad self-assessed health affects individual well-being.
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Suggested Citation

  • Martin Binder & Alex Coad, 2012. ""I'm afraid I have bad news for you…" Estimating the impact of different health impairments on subjective well-being," SPRU Working Paper Series 200, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
  • Handle: RePEc:sru:ssewps:200
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    File URL: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/documents/sewp200.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Martin Binder & Guido Buenstorf, 2016. "Smile or Die: Can Subjective Well-Being Increase Survival in the Face of Substantive Health Impairments?," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201633, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    2. Victoria Ateca-Amestoy & Mariana Gerstenblüth & Irene Mussio & Máximo Rossi, 2014. "How do Cultural Activities Influence Happiness? The Relation Between Self-Reported Well-Being and Leisure," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0614, Department of Economics - dECON.
    3. Au, N. & Johnston, D. W., 2013. "An econometric analysis of self-assessed health: what does it mean and what is it hiding?," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 13/31, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    4. Cifuentes, Myriam Patricia & Doogan, Nathan J. & Fernandez, Soledad A. & Seiber, Eric E., 2016. "Factors shaping Americans’ objective well-being: A systems science approach with network analysis," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 1018-1039.
    5. Martin Binder, 2013. "Innovativeness and Subjective Well-Being," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 111(2), pages 561-578, April.
    6. Geiger, Ben Baumberg & MacKerron, George, 2016. "Can alcohol make you happy? A subjective wellbeing approach," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 184-191.
    7. Coad, Alex & Binder, Martin, 2014. "Causal linkages between work and life satisfaction and their determinants in a structural VAR approach," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 124(2), pages 263-268.
    8. Au, Nicole & Johnston, David W., 2014. "Self-assessed health: What does it mean and what does it hide?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 21-28.
    9. repec:eee:socmed:v:181:y:2017:i:c:p:158-167 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    health; illness; happiness; subjective well-being; matching estimators; propensity score matching; BHPS;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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