What Explains Differences in Smoking, Drinking and Other Health-Related Behaviors

20 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2005

See all articles by David M. Cutler

David M. Cutler

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Edward L. Glaeser

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: February 2005

Abstract

We explore economic model of health behaviors. While the standard economic model of health as an investment is generally supported empirically, the ability of this model to explain heterogeneity across individuals is extremely limited. Most prominently, the correlation of different health behaviors across people is virtually zero, suggest that standard factors such as variation in discount rates or the value of life are not the drivers of behavior. We focus instead on two other factors: genetics; and behavioral-specific situational factors. The first factor is empirically important, and we suspect the second is as well.

Suggested Citation

Cutler, David M. and Glaeser, Edward L., What Explains Differences in Smoking, Drinking and Other Health-Related Behaviors (February 2005). NBER Working Paper No. w11100. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=663482

David M. Cutler (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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Edward L. Glaeser

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Room 315A
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United States
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Brookings Institution

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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