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“It won’t happen to me” VS “It could have been me” - Changes in health behavior initiated by a negative health shock to a peer

Verhoef, Lise-Lotte LU (2017) EKHM52 20171
Department of Economic History
Abstract
Despite being aware of the health risks associated with making “bad” health decisions, we seem to deny our personal vulnerability to the harmful effects of poor health behavior. Aiming to explore whether the harmful effects associated with poor health behavior are personalized once our peers suffer from them, reflected by improved health behavior and referred to as “peer effects”, this study uses individual-level U.S. data from the National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS) on the health outcomes smoking behavior, BMI, (un)healthy food consumption, and exercise frequency. The predictor variable – a negative health shock to a peer – consists of the individual reporting that a biological parent and/or sibling has been diagnosed with asthma,... (More)
Despite being aware of the health risks associated with making “bad” health decisions, we seem to deny our personal vulnerability to the harmful effects of poor health behavior. Aiming to explore whether the harmful effects associated with poor health behavior are personalized once our peers suffer from them, reflected by improved health behavior and referred to as “peer effects”, this study uses individual-level U.S. data from the National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS) on the health outcomes smoking behavior, BMI, (un)healthy food consumption, and exercise frequency. The predictor variable – a negative health shock to a peer – consists of the individual reporting that a biological parent and/or sibling has been diagnosed with asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, or stroke. The empirical strategy consists of OLS regressions including time fixed effects, with a further specification including individual fixed effects. The results were mixed: suggestive evidence of peer effects was found for several diagnoses, while other regressions showed a significant yet contrary, or often statistically non-significant effect. We conclude that this study does overall not find consistent evidence of individuals improving health behavior once a peer suffers a negative health shock. Especially the small number of observations for which variation in time can be exploited has major drawbacks for the explanatory power of the study. (Less)
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author
Verhoef, Lise-Lotte LU
supervisor
organization
course
EKHM52 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
health behavior, peer effects, smoking, diet, exercise
language
English
id
8917012
date added to LUP
2017-06-21 08:44:21
date last changed
2017-06-21 08:44:21
@misc{8917012,
  abstract     = {Despite being aware of the health risks associated with making “bad” health decisions, we seem to deny our personal vulnerability to the harmful effects of poor health behavior. Aiming to explore whether the harmful effects associated with poor health behavior are personalized once our peers suffer from them, reflected by improved health behavior and referred to as “peer effects”, this study uses individual-level U.S. data from the National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS) on the health outcomes smoking behavior, BMI, (un)healthy food consumption, and exercise frequency. The predictor variable – a negative health shock to a peer – consists of the individual reporting that a biological parent and/or sibling has been diagnosed with asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, or stroke. The empirical strategy consists of OLS regressions including time fixed effects, with a further specification including individual fixed effects. The results were mixed: suggestive evidence of peer effects was found for several diagnoses, while other regressions showed a significant yet contrary, or often statistically non-significant effect. We conclude that this study does overall not find consistent evidence of individuals improving health behavior once a peer suffers a negative health shock. Especially the small number of observations for which variation in time can be exploited has major drawbacks for the explanatory power of the study.},
  author       = {Verhoef, Lise-Lotte},
  keyword      = {health behavior,peer effects,smoking,diet,exercise},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {“It won’t happen to me” VS “It could have been me” - Changes in health behavior initiated by a negative health shock to a peer},
  year         = {2017},
}