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Too healthy to fall sick? Longevity expectations and protective health behaviours during the first wave of COVID-19

Celidoni, Martina, Costa-Font, Joan ORCID: 0000-0001-7174-7919 and Salmasi, Luca (2022) Too healthy to fall sick? Longevity expectations and protective health behaviours during the first wave of COVID-19. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 202. 733 - 745. ISSN 0167-2681

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.jebo.2022.08.015


Longevity expectations (LE) are subjective assessments of future health status that can influence a number of individual health protective decisions. This is especially true during a pandemic such as COVID-19, as the risk of ill health depends more than ever on such protective decisions. This paper examines the causal effect of LE on some protective health behaviors and a number of decisions regarding forgoing health care using individual differences in LE. We use data from the Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe, and we draw on an instrumental variable strategy exploiting individual level information on parental age at death. Consistent with the too healthy to be sick hypothesis, we find that individuals, exhibiting higher expected longevity, are more likely to engage in protective behaviours, and are less likely to forgo medical treatment. We estimate that a one standard deviation increase in LE increases the probability to comply always with social distancing by 0.6%, to meet people less often by 0.4% and decreases the probability to forgo any medical treatment by 0.6%. Our estimates vary depending on supply side restrictions influencing the availability of health care, as well as individual characteristics such as their gender and the presence of pre-existing health conditions.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 Elsevier B.V.
Divisions: Health Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
JEL classification: I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I1 - Health > I12 - Health Production: Nutrition, Mortality, Morbidity, Suicide, Substance Abuse and Addiction, Disability, and Economic Behavior
I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I1 - Health > I18 - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2022 10:24
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2022 13:06

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