"I'm afraid I have bad news for you. . ." Estimating the impact of different health impairments on subjective well-being

Martin Binder, Alex Coad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Bad health decreases individuals' happiness, but few studies measure the impact of specific illnesses. We apply matching estimators to examine how changes in different (objective) conditions of bad health affect subjective well-being for a sample of 100,265 observations from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) database (1996-2006). The strongest effect is for alcohol and drug abuse, followed by anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses, stroke and cancer. Adaptation to health impairments varies across health impairments. There is also a puzzling asymmetry: strong adverse reactions to deteriorations in health appear alongside weak increases in well-being after health improvements. In conclusion, our analysis offers a more detailed account of how bad health influences happiness than accounts focusing on how bad self-assessed health affects individual well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-167
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume87
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jun
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • BHPS
  • Great Britain
  • Happiness
  • Health
  • Illness
  • Matching estimators
  • Propensity score matching
  • Subjective well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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