Anatomy of a Health Scare: Education, Income and the MMR Controversy in the UK

58 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2008

See all articles by Dan Anderberg

Dan Anderberg

University of London, Royal Holloway College - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Arnaud Chevalier

University of London - Royal Holloway College

Jonathan Wadsworth

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; William Davidson Institute; Royal Holloway College University of London

Abstract

One theory for why there is a strong education gradient in health outcomes is that more educated individuals more quickly absorb new information about health technology. The MMR controversy in the UK provides a case where, for a brief period of time, some highly publicized research suggested that a particular multi-component vaccine, freely provided to young children, could have potentially serious side-effects. As the controversy set in, uptake of the MMR vaccine by more educated parents decreased significantly faster than that by less educated parents, turning a significant positive education gradient into a negative one. The fact that the initial information was subsequently overturned and the decline in uptake ceased suggests that our results are not driven by other unrelated trends. Somewhat puzzling, more educated parents also reduced their uptake of other non-controversial childhood vaccines. As an alternative to the MMR, parents may purchase single vaccines privately; the MMR is the only vaccine for which we observe a strong effect of income on uptake.

Keywords: childhood vaccinations, health outcomes, education

JEL Classification: H31, I38, J12

Suggested Citation

Anderberg, Dan and Chevalier, Arnaud and Wadsworth, Jonathan, Anatomy of a Health Scare: Education, Income and the MMR Controversy in the UK. IZA Discussion Paper No. 3590, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1158986 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0042-7092.2007.00700.x

Dan Anderberg (Contact Author)

University of London, Royal Holloway College - Department of Economics ( email )

Royal Holloway College
Egham
Surrey, Surrey TW20 0EX
United Kingdom

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Arnaud Chevalier

University of London - Royal Holloway College ( email )

Senate House
Malet Street
London, TW20 0EX
United Kingdom

Jonathan Wadsworth

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
England

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

William Davidson Institute

724 E. University Ave.
Wyly Hall
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1234
United States

Royal Holloway College University of London

Senate House
Malet Street
London, TW20 0EX
United Kingdom

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