Why the Rich Drink More but Smoke Less: The Impact of Wealth on Health Behaviors – RAND – April 2013

Posted on April 29, 2013. Filed under: Health Economics, Public Hlth & Hlth Promotion | Tags: |

Why the Rich Drink More but Smoke Less: The Impact of Wealth on Health Behaviors – RAND – April 2013

“Wealthier individuals engage in healthier behavior. This paper seeks to explain this phenomenon by developing a theory of health behavior, and exploiting both lottery winnings and inheritances to test the theory. It distinguishes 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 provide an explanation for behavioral differences, and ultimately health outcomes, between wealth groups.”

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