Family Health Behaviors
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- Family Health Behaviors_(version_of_record)
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We study how health behaviors are shaped through family spillovers. We leverage administrative data to identify the effects of health shocks on family members' consumption of preventive care and health-related behaviors, constructing counterfactuals for affected households using households that experience the same shock but a few years in the future. Spouses and adult children immediately improve their health behaviors and their responses are both significant and persistent. These spillovers are far-reaching as they cascade even to coworkers. While some responses are consistent with learning information about one's own health, the evidence points to salience as a major operative explanation. (JEL D15, D83, I12, J12) Health behaviors, broadly defined as any action, investment, or consumption choice that can affect health and mortality risk, are a key input in the production of individuals' health (McGinnis and Foege 1993; Mokdad et al. 2004; Cutler, Glaeser, and Rosen 2009). These behaviors take a variety of forms including both adverse habits, such as smoking and drinking, and positive actions, such as the consumption of risk-reducing preventive care. The importance of identifying what determines health-related behaviors, which are notorious for being hard to change, has led to an active literature on a range of potential factors, with some particular focus on financial incentives and health education. 1 Still, we lack a clear understanding of the channels through which health behaviors and habits evolve over the life cycle. A long tradition of economic research has underscored the importance of family interactions in determining individual behavior, particularly in the context of consumption and labor supply choices (Becker 1991; Browning, Chiappori, and Weiss 1 Cutler (2004) and Cawley and Ruhm (2011) offer reviews for developed economies, and Kremer and Glennerster (2011) review evidence from randomized evaluations in developing countries.
|Journal||American Economic Review|
|Publication status||Published - Sep 2019|