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Wealth shocks and health outcomes: evidence from stock market fluctuations


Schwandt, Hannes (2014). Wealth shocks and health outcomes: evidence from stock market fluctuations. CEP discussion paper 1281, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Abstract

Do wealth shocks affect the health of the elderly in developed countries? The economic literature is skeptical about such effects which have so far only been found for poor retirees in poor countries. In this paper I show that wealth shocks also matter for the health of wealthy retirees in the US. I exploit the booms and busts in the US stock market as a natural experiment that generated considerable gains and losses in the wealth of stock-holding retirees. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study I construct wealth shocks as the interaction of stock holdings with stock market changes. These constructed wealth shocks are highly predictive of changes in reported wealth. And they strongly affect health outcomes. A 10% wealth shock leads to an improvement of 2-3% of a standard deviation in physical health, mental health and survival rates. Effects are heterogeneous across physical health conditions, with most pronounced effects for the incidence of high blood pressure, smaller effects for heart problems and no effects for arthritis, diabetes, lung diseases and cancer. The comparison with the cross-sectional relationship of wealth and health suggests that the estimated effects of wealth shocks are larger than the long-run wealth elasticity of health.

Abstract

Do wealth shocks affect the health of the elderly in developed countries? The economic literature is skeptical about such effects which have so far only been found for poor retirees in poor countries. In this paper I show that wealth shocks also matter for the health of wealthy retirees in the US. I exploit the booms and busts in the US stock market as a natural experiment that generated considerable gains and losses in the wealth of stock-holding retirees. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study I construct wealth shocks as the interaction of stock holdings with stock market changes. These constructed wealth shocks are highly predictive of changes in reported wealth. And they strongly affect health outcomes. A 10% wealth shock leads to an improvement of 2-3% of a standard deviation in physical health, mental health and survival rates. Effects are heterogeneous across physical health conditions, with most pronounced effects for the incidence of high blood pressure, smaller effects for heart problems and no effects for arthritis, diabetes, lung diseases and cancer. The comparison with the cross-sectional relationship of wealth and health suggests that the estimated effects of wealth shocks are larger than the long-run wealth elasticity of health.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
JEL Classification:G10, I10, J14
Uncontrolled Keywords:Retiree health; wealth shocks; stock market
Language:English
Date:July 2014
Deposited On:18 Aug 2017 13:25
Last Modified:30 Aug 2017 03:03
Series Name:CEP discussion paper
Number of Pages:45
Official URL:http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/abstract.asp?index=4461

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