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Ill-Health as a Household Norm: Evidence from Other People's Health Problems

This paper presents evidence that an individual's self-assessed health (SAH) does not only suffer from systematic reporting bias and adaptation bias but is also biased owing to confounding social norm effects. Using 13 waves of the British Household Panel Survey, I am able to show that, while there is a negative and statistically significant correlation between SAH and individuals' own health problem index, this negative effect varies significantly with the average number of health problems per (other) family member. Consistent with Akerlof's (1980) social norm theory, the gap in SAH between individuals with and without health problems reduces as the average number of health problems for other household members increases. Under the assumption that SAH is endogenous, this finding suggests that the objective health of other household members could be a good instrument for self-assessed levels of health.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of York in its series Discussion Papers with number 08/21.

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Date of creation: Jul 2008
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Handle: RePEc:yor:yorken:08/21
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