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Diskussionspapiere - Hannover Economic Papers (HEP)

Health and Education: Understanding the Gradient

Autor: Holger Strulik
Nummer: 487, Dec 2011, pp. 35
JEL-Class: D91, J17, J26, I12

Abstract:
This study presents a novel view on education and health behavior of individuals constrained by aging bodies. The aging process, i.e. the accumulation of health deficits over time, is built on recent insights from gerontology. The loss of body functionality, which eventually leads to death, can be accelerated by unhealthy behavior and delayed through health expenditure. The proposed theory rationalizes why better educated people optimally choose a healthier lifestyle, that is why they spend more on health and indulge less in unhealthy behavior. The model is calibrated for the average male US citizen. In the benchmark case a di erence of the return to education that motivates one year more of education motivates also about 8 percent less unhealthy behavior and 5 percent more health expenditure and thus explains half a year gain of longevity. Progress in medical technology explains why the education gradient gets larger over time.

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