nep-hea New Economics Papers
on Health Economics
Issue of 2005‒06‒14
eight papers chosen by
Yong Yin
SUNY at Buffalo, USA

  1. Growth and Epidemic Diseases By Bell, Clive; Gersbach, Hans
  2. Pill, Patch or Shot? Subjective Expectations and Birth Control Choice By Delavande, Adeline
  3. Does Longevity Cause Growth? By Hazan, Moshe; Zoabi, Hosny
  4. Cannabis Prices and Dynamics of Cannabis Use By van Ours, Jan C; Williams, Jenny
  5. Efficient Kidney Exchange: Coincidence of Wants in a Structured Market By Alvin E. Roth; Tayfun Sonmez; M. Utku Unver
  6. The Value of Health and Longevity By Kevin M. Murphy; Robert H. Topel
  7. The Impact of State Physical Education Requirements on Youth Physical Activity and Overweight By John Cawley; Chad D. Meyerhoefer; David Newhouse
  8. The Impacts of Exercise: An inquiry into the Impact of Exercise on an Individual, Work Performance and Company Profits By Erik Arebro; Neesh Chand; Pia-Maria Molin; Supreena Narayanan; Anne O’Higgins

  1. By: Bell, Clive; Gersbach, Hans
    Abstract: We study the formation of human capital and its transmission across generations when a society is assailed by an epidemic disease such as AIDS. We establish that the disease can severely retard economic growth, even to the point of leading to an economic collapse. We also show that the epidemic may exacerbate inequality. Pooling health risks in the society puts the society on a ‘make and break’ road.
    Keywords: AIDS; epidemic diseases; growth; human capital; pooling risks
    JEL: E13 I12 I21 O41
    Date: 2004–12
  2. By: Delavande, Adeline
    Abstract: When choosing a contraception method, women base their decisions on their subjective expectations about the realizations of method-related outcomes. Examples of such outcomes include getting pregnant, contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or experiencing side effects. By conducting a face-to-face survey, I have assembled a unique dataset on women’s subjective expectations regarding existing birth control methods. While respondents have, on average, expectations consistent with actual population outcomes, they exhibit substantial heterogeneity in their subjective beliefs, which emphasizes the need to rely on expectations data when conducting inference. I combine expectations data with observed choices to estimate a random utility model of birth control choice, without making any assumption about expectations. Effectiveness, protection against STDs and partner’s disapproval are found to be the most important factors in the decision process. I have also elicited respondents’ willingness to pay (WTP) for a hypothetical 100% effective birth control method. Remarkably, the median elicited WTP is very close to the estimated parameter for preferences toward pregnancy outcome expressed in dollars. The reported WTPs are incorporated directly in the estimation to fully account for preferences heterogeneity for getting pregnant.
    Keywords: contraception; subjective expectations; uncertainty
    JEL: D81 J13
    Date: 2005–01
  3. By: Hazan, Moshe; Zoabi, Hosny
    Abstract: This article challenges conventional wisdom by arguing that greater longevity cannot explain the significant accumulation of human capital during the transition from stagnation to growth. This is because greater longevity raises children’s future income proportionally at all levels of education, leaving the relative return between quality and quantity unaffected. This result is consistent with historical evidence that longevity began to increase long before education did. Our theory also casts doubts on recent findings about a positive effect of health on education. This is because health raises the marginal return on quality and quantity, resulting in an ambiguous effect on the accumulation of human capital. We conclude that longevity and health have had a minor effect, if any, on the transition from stagnation to growth via investment in education.
    Keywords: education; fertility; growth; health; longevity
    JEL: I10 I20 J10 O11 O40
    Date: 2005–02
  4. By: van Ours, Jan C; Williams, Jenny
    Abstract: This paper uses duration models and self-reported cannabis histories from young Australians to study the dynamics of cannabis use. We find that low cannabis prices are associated with early initiation into cannabis use. While the decision to quit does not appear to be directly influenced by price, we find that the younger an individual is when they start using cannabis the less likely they are to quit. Therefore, low cannabis prices lead to early use and because of that they lead to a low quit rate and hence a longer duration of use.
    Keywords: age of initiation; cannabis prices; cannabis use
    JEL: C41 D12 I19
    Date: 2005–04
  5. By: Alvin E. Roth; Tayfun Sonmez; M. Utku Unver
    Abstract: Patients needing kidney transplants may have willing donors who cannot donate to them because of blood or tissue incompatibility. Incompatible patient-donor pairs can exchange donor kidneys with other such pairs. The situation facing such pairs resembles models of the "double coincidence of wants," and relatively few exchanges have been consummated by decentralized means. As the population of available patient-donor pairs grows, the frequency with which exchanges can be arranged will depend in part on how exchanges are organized. We study the potential frequency of exchanges as a function of the number of patient-donor pairs, and the size of the largest feasible exchange. Developing infrastructure to identify and perform 3-way as well as 2-way exchanges will have a substantial effect on the number of transplants, and will help the most vulnerable patients. Larger than 3-way exchanges have much smaller impact. Larger populations of patient-donor pairs increase the percentage of patients of all kinds who can find exchanges.
    JEL: C7 C6
    Date: 2005–06
  6. By: Kevin M. Murphy; Robert H. Topel
    Abstract: We develop an economic framework for valuing improvements to health and life expectancy, based on individuals' willingness to pay. We then apply the framework to past and prospective reductions in mortality risks, both overall and for specific life-threatening diseases. We calculate (i) the social values of increased longevity for men and women over the 20th century; (ii) the social value of progress against various diseases after 1970; and (iii) the social value of potential future progress against various major categories of disease. The historical gains from increased longevity have been enormous. Over the 20th century, cumulative gains in life expectancy were worth over $1.2 million per person for both men and women. Between 1970 and 2000 increased longevity added about $3.2 trillion per year to national wealth, an uncounted value equal to about half of average annual GDP over the period. Reduced mortality from heart disease alone has increased the value of life by about $1.5 trillion per year since 1970. The potential gains from future innovations in health care are also extremely large. Even a modest 1 percent reduction in cancer mortality would be worth nearly $500 billion.
    JEL: D11 I10 I18 J19
    Date: 2005–06
  7. By: John Cawley; Chad D. Meyerhoefer; David Newhouse
    Abstract: To combat childhood overweight, which has risen dramatically in the past three decades, many medical and public health organizations have called for students to spend more time in physical education (PE) classes. This paper is the first to exploit state PE requirements as quasi-natural experiments in order to estimate the causal impact of PE on student activity and weight. We study nationwide data from the YRBSS for 1999, 2001, and 2003 merged with data on state minimum PE requirements from the 1994 and 2000 School Health Policies and Programs Study and the 2001 Shape of the Nation Report. We find that certain state regulations are effective in raising the number of minutes during which students are active in PE. Our results also indicate that additional PE time raises the number of days per week that students report having exercised or engaged in strength-building activities, but lowers the number of days in which students report light physical activity. PE time has no detectable impact on youth BMI or the probability that a student is overweight. We conclude that while raising PE requirements may make students more active by some (but not all) measures, there is not yet the scientific base to declare raising PE requirements an anti-obesity initiative.
    JEL: I1 I2
    Date: 2005–06
  8. By: Erik Arebro (Stockholm School of Economics); Neesh Chand (Stockholm School of Economics); Pia-Maria Molin (Stockholm School of Economics); Supreena Narayanan (Stockholm School of Economics); Anne O’Higgins (Stockholm School of Economics)
    Abstract: In the past few decades increasing attention has been devoted to physical exercise. Experts commend exercise for reducing stress levels, lowering blood pressure and increasing general feelings of well-being. In a society increasingly complex and work-oriented, many turn to exercise as a form of release. But is exercise always beneficial? Are there some cases where this increased focus can potentially harm the individual, company and the society at large? This paper investigates how physical exercise impacts the individual, one’s work performance, companies and societies as a whole. While the conventional thought is that it is beneficial in all respects, we apply a possible social constructionist view challenging some of these societal norms. The paper is organized as follows: The first section examines how exercise – holistic and physical – benefits the human body and mind. From there we take a closer look at how these benefits transfer to individual work performance. The impact of this is then discussed on an aggregate, company-wide level. We then present a picture of a future society in which the government plays an active role in encouraging citizens’ fitness.
    JEL: C9
    Date: 2005–06–07

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