Wealth and Health Behavior

Testing the Concept of a Health Cost

Published in: European Economic Review, v. 72, Nov. 2014, P. 197–220

Posted on RAND.org on January 09, 2015

by Hans van Kippersluis, Titus Galama

Read More

Access further information on this document at European Economic Review

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Wealthier individuals engage in healthier behavior. This paper seeks to explain this phenomenon by exploiting both inheritances and lottery winnings to test a theory of health behavior. We distinguish between the direct monetary cost and the indirect health cost (value of health lost) of unhealthy consumption. The health cost increases with wealth and the degree of unhealthiness, leading wealthier individuals to consume more healthy and moderately unhealthy, but fewer severely unhealthy goods. The empirical evidence presented suggests that differences in health costs may indeed partially explain behavioral differences, and ultimately health outcomes, between wealth groups.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/research-integrity.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.