Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #459

Does New Health Information Affect Health Behavior? The Effect of Health Events on Smoking Cessation

by Christian Bünnings

University of Duisburg-Essen, 12/2013, 23 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-518-8 DOI: 10.4419/86788518



This paper investigates whether new health information affects smoking behavior. Interpreting three distinct categories of health events as different information, the paper also tests whether behavioral change depends on the type of information received. Based on retrospectively reported data on smoking behavior from the Swiss Household Panel, a linear probability model is applied to estimate the effects of three different health events on the decision to quit smoking. The empirical results yield robust evidence that smokers respond differently to health events that are due to different causes. Suffering from physical health problems increases the inclination to stop smoking, the opposite holds true for mental disorders, while accidents do not affect health behavior at all. Analyses of effect heterogeneity further reveal that the same type of information affects various subgroups of the population differently.

JEL-Classification: C23, I10

Keywords: Health events; behavioral change; smoking cessation; retrospective data