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Myocardial Infarction, Health Behavior, and the Grossman Model

by Emma Mehlhop

This paper contributes an empirical test of Michael Grossman’s model of the demand for health and a novel application of the model to myocardial infarction (MI) incidence. Using data from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study (HRS), I test Grossman’s assumptions regarding the effects of hourly wage, sex, educational attainment, and age on health demand along with the effects of new variables describing health behaviors, whether or not a respondent is insured, and whether or not they are allowed sufficient paid sick leave. I use logistic regression to estimate health demand schedules using five different health demand indicators: exercise, doctor visits, drinking, smoking, and high BMI. I apply the Cox Proportional Hazard model to examine two equations for the marginal product of health investment both in terms of propensity to prevent death and to prevent MI, one of the leading causes of mortality in the United States. This study considers the effects of the aforementioned health demand indicators, among other factors, on the marginal product of health investment for the prevention of death compared to the prevention of MI. Additionally, there is significant evidence of a negative effect of health insurance on likelihood of exercising regularly, implying some effect of moral hazard on the health demand schedule.

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Advisors: Professor Charles Becker, Professor Grace Kim, Professor Frank Sloan | JEL Codes: I1, I10, I12


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