Not Feeling Well… (True or Exhaggerated ?) Health (un)Satisfaction as a Leading Health Indicator

Bachelet MariaBecchetti LeonardoRicciardini Fabiola
CEIS Research paper
A desirable property of subjective wellbeing indicators is their capacity to predict future objective outcomes. In our paper we provide novel cross-country original evidence documenting that lagged health (un)satisfaction is a leading health indicator, that is, a significant predictor of future changes in health conditions on a large sample of Europeans aged above 50. We find that, after controlling for attrition bias, lagged (un)satisfaction with health is significantly and positively correlated with changes in the number of chronic diseases, net of the concurring impact of levels and changes in socio-demographic factors and health styles, country and regional health system effects and declared symptoms. Our findings are robust in age, gender, education and income class splits and are significant when separately estimated in the 13 countries of our sample. We further test the ordinal predictive properties of the health (un)satisfaction indicator in magnitude and statistical significance. Illness specific estimates document that the impact of lagged health (un)satisfaction is significant on ulcer, hypertension, arthritis and cholesterol (and weakly so on cataracts, hip or femoral fracture and lung diseases), while having a robust and significant effect on the probability of contracting cancer.
Number: 336
Keywords: health outcomes, health satisfaction
JEL codes: I12; I31
Volume: 13
Issue: 2
Date: Thursday, April 2, 2015
Revision Date: Thursday, April 2, 2015