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Impact of a Health Shock on Lifestyle Behaviours

Zoey Verdun ()

No ECO 2020/02, Economics Working Papers from European University Institute

Abstract: Following a healthier lifestyle can improve living quality. Yet mixed evidence exists for whether a health shock induces individuals to change their lifestyle. Panel data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study, Understanding Society, is used to estimate the response to a health shock – heart attack or diabetes diagnosis – on a healthy lifestyle index, composed of eight lifestyle behaviours. Using a matching approach, this paper finds a significant positive effect on the index; a large effect is found for a strong shock, but no effect for a weak one. The overall effect is driven by increased fruit and vegetable consumption, decreased number of cigarettes smoked and increased probability to quit drinking alcohol. Among those drivers there is heterogeneity by sex, such as only women increase the probability to quit drinking. Lifestyle changes following a shock suggest updated beliefs about an individual’s health status, with heterogeneous costs of change across individuals and behaviours.

Keywords: health shocks; lifestyle behaviours; behavioural change (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D83 I12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea
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