The Effect of Income on Health Choices: Physical Activity and Alcohol Use

This paper investigates the relation between household income level and individual alcohol consumption behavior, and the relation between household income level and individual physical activity participation choice. Previous research is inconclusive regarding the relations on these two diametrically-opposed goods. We explore this issue through the lens of time preference. Our model considers income as a budget constraint of today as well as a component of future utility, and those with lower income discount future utility more heavily. Data from Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) are tested utilizing a multinomial Logit method and a binary Logit method. The results show that alcohol consumption frequency positively correlates to income, but excessive alcohol use mostly occurs among lower income population. Participation of physical activity shows a positive relation with household income. In general, these findings support the hypothesis that low income individuals are more likely to make choices to the detriment of future health, since they discount future utility relatively heavily.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-04

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