June 1, 1999
This thesis consists of five essays concerning the causes and consequences of inequalities in health. The first chapter develops a theoretical framework to analyse variations in the distribution of population health with respect to income. It is shown that the effects of alternative health promotion policies and equiproportionate income growth depend on the characteristics of individual level health production functions and the distribution of behavioural factors in the population. The second chapter highlights the potential conflict that exists in attempts to both increase the average health of a population while simultaneously reducing inequalities by presenting numerical simulations of the model proposed in chapter one. Chapter three focuses on the contribution of lifestyle to inequalities in self-assessed health. Using panel data from the British Health and Lifestyle Survey, it considers the impact of education and socio-economic status on self-assessed health and also considers how these impacts are reduced after accounting for lifestyle factors. This chapter also examines the complementarity and substitutability of elements of lifestyle, thus producing an indication of alternative methods of improving lifestyle and reducing inequalities. Focusing on alternative models of addiction to tobacco, the fourth chapter considers how quitting may best be modelled and presents an empirical model which utilises the concept of adjustment costs and estimates the gain in lifespan attributable to quitting smoking. This is then used to ascertain whether individuals with a large gain in lifespan are those that quit; in general this effect is not observed. Chapter five considers one consequence of inequalities in health. By considering the effect of self-assessed and psychological health on hourly wages using the British Household Panel Survey, it is found empirically that reduced psychological health reduces the hourly wage for males, while excellent self-assessed health increases the hourly wage of females.
not held in Res Lib - bibliographic reference only