Your Money or Your Life: Managing Health, Managing Money
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Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, this paper examines the relationship between non-collateralized debt (NCD) and health behaviors. The results reveal that households whose members tend to lead less healthy lifestyles are more likely to hold NCD. There are three possible underlying hypotheses that may explain these relationships: (a) common factors, such as preferences, shaping both debt and poorer health behaviors; (b) poorer health and health behaviors causing debt; and (c) debt causing poorer health behaviors. Our findings are not consistent with a causal relationship between health behaviors and NCD. It is likely that other factors, such as time preferences, risk aversion and self-control may underlie the observed correlation.
KeywordsCredit card debt Health behaviors Non-collateralized debt Obesity Smoking
Useful discussions with Frank Stafford, Charles Brown, Kerwin Charles, Julie Cullen, Alan Monheit, and Jeannette Rogowski are gratefully acknowledged. Comments from the participants of the University of Michigan Public Finance seminar, the Midwest Economic Association 2005 meeting, Southwestern Economics Association 2005 meeting, UMDNJ Health Economics Seminar and comments from the three anonymous reviewers are much appreciated. All remaining errors are those of the author.
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