NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

It'll Only Hurt a Second? Microeconomic Determinants of Who Gets Flu Shots

John Mullahy

NBER Working Paper No. 6500
Issued in April 1998
NBER Program(s):   HC

Appreciating how propensities to be immunized against the flu depend on individual characteristics and environments is essential if policies regarding influenza control are to be sensibly formulated. Beyond epidemiology, there are some important economic issues that must be addressed if the determinants of this form of preventive care are to be comprehensively understood. One concerns the relationship between labor supply and the propensity to be immunized: While it is costly (in terms of time costs) for workers to obtain immunizations, it is also workers who are likely to have relatively most to lose from being ill with the flu. Another concern not generally appreciated is the extent to which individuals' perceived risks of infection may affect their propensities to be immunized. The analysis is based on data from the 1991 National Health Interview Survey. Immunization propensity displays the expected patterns by age and health status, while the results with respect to race, household structure, income and insurance are somewhat more surprising and/or novel. The estimated labor supply and perceived risk effects suggest that some aspects of the economics of preventive care generally not considered in empirical work are -- at least in this application -- important and merit further consideration.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w6500

Published: John Mullahy, 1999. "It'll only hurt a second? Microeconomic determinants of who gets flu shots," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(1), pages 9-24. citation courtesy of

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