NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

"Healthy, Wealthy and Wise?" Revisited: An Analysis of the Causal Pathways from Socio-economic Status to Health

Till Stowasser, Florian Heiss, Daniel McFadden, Joachim Winter

NBER Working Paper No. 17273
Issued in August 2011
NBER Program(s):   AG   HE

Much has been said about the stylized fact that the economically successful are not only wealthier but also healthier than the less affluent. There is little doubt about the existence of this socio-economic gradient in health, but there remains a vivid debate about its source. In this paper, we review the methodological challenges involved in testing the causal relationships between socio-economic status and health. We describe the approach of testing for the absence of causal channels developed by Adams et al. (2003) that seeks identification without the need to isolate exogenous variation in economic variables, and we repeat their analysis using the full range of data that have become available in the Health and Retirement Study since, both in terms of observations years and age ranges covered. This analysis shows that causal inference critically depends on which time periods are used for estimation. Using the information of longer panels has the greatest effect on results. We find that SES causality cannot be ruled out for a larger number of health conditions than in the original study. An approach based on a reduced-form interpretation of causality thus is not very informative, at least as long as the confounding influence of hidden common factors is not fully controlled.

download in pdf format
   (295 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

This paper is available as PDF (295 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17273

" Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise? Socioeconomic Status, Morbidity, and Mortality among the Elderly," with M. Hurd and A. Merrill, Working Paper, April 1998. Forthcoming in JOURNAL OF ECONOMETRICS. " Revised May 2001 for NBER Conference on the Economics of Aging, Boulders, Colorado.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Adams, Hurd, McFadden, Merrill, and Ribeiro Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise? Tests for Direct Causal Paths between Health and Socioeconomic Status
Currie w13987 Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Socioeconomic Status, Poor Health in Childhood, and Human Capital Development
Cawley and Ruhm w17081 The Economics of Risky Health Behaviors
Baum and Chou w17423 The Socio-Economic Causes of Obesity
Willis Comment on "'Healthy, Wealthy and Wise?' Revisited: An Analysis of the Causal Pathways from Socioeconomic Status to Health"
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us