NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Inheritances, Health and Death

Beomsoo Kim, Christopher J. Ruhm

NBER Working Paper No. 15364
Issued in September 2009
NBER Program(s):   AG   HC   HE

We examine how wealth shocks, in the form of inheritances, affect the mortality rates, health status and health behaviors of older adults, using data from eight waves of the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS). Our main finding is that bequests do not have substantial effects on health, although some improvements in quality-of-life are possible. This absence occurs despite increases in out-of-pocket (OOP) spending on health care and in the utilization of medical services, especially discretionary and non-lifesaving types such as dental care. Nor can we find a convincing indication of changes in lifestyles that offset the benefits of increased medical care. Inheritances are associated with higher alcohol consumption, but with no change in smoking or exercise and a possible decrease in obesity.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15364

Published: Beomsoo Kim & Christopher J. Ruhm, 2012. "Inheritances, health and death," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(2), pages 127-144, 02. citation courtesy of

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