Which Health Conditions Cause The Most Unhappiness?

Carol Graham, Lucas Higuera, and Eduardo Lora
Eduardo Lora Senior Fellow - Center for International Development, Harvard University

December 14, 2010

Editor’s note: The full version of this paper is published in Health Economics (subscription required).

Abstract —

This paper assesses the effects of different health conditions on happiness. Based on new data for Latin America, we examine the effects of different conditions across age, gender, and income cohorts. Anxiety and pain have stronger effects than physical problems, likely because people adapt better to one-time shocks than to constant uncertainty. The negative effects of health conditions are very large when compared with the effects of income on happiness. And, while higher peer income typically elicits envy, better peer health provides positive signals for life and health satisfaction. Health norms vary widely across countries.

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