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Title:Essays on the economics of investments in health
Author(s):Slade, Alexander
Director of Research:McNamara, Paul E.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McNamara, Paul E.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Beller, Andrea H.; Gundersen, Craig; Powers, Elizabeth T.
Department / Program:Agr & Consumer Economics
Discipline:Agr & Consumer Economics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):health production
family structure
single-parent families
maternal depression
nonresident father involvement
Abstract:This dissertation uses three longitudinal data sets to investigate the short- and long-term effects of family and disease on individual health outcomes and behaviors. The first essay begins by exploring the role of a recent diagnosis of diabetes on the dynamics of several health investment behaviors in older Americans, including smoking, alcohol use, frequent exercise, and the outcome of overweight or obese status. Nine waves of longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study are used. The behavioral response of diagnosed diabetics is compared to a group of individuals who are statistically likely to have high blood sugar levels based on Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels. A population average probit model, estimating using the Generalized Estimating Equation (GEE) framework, is used to clarify this relationship. While individuals tend to respond initially by increasing exercise levels and decreasing weight, cigarette and alcohol consumption, the response decreases with time and recidivism is present after initial diagnosis, especially through reduced exercise levels and weight gain. Essays two and three examine family-related (and more specifically, father-related) determinants of child and maternal health outcomes. The second essay uses panel data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) to explore how childhood family structure through age 15 (as measured by biological father absence and other male entrance) affects physical and mental health outcomes (including self-reported health status, overweight or obesity status, and depression) smoking behavior during adolescence (Wave I), as well as subsequently into young adulthood (Waves II through IV). Static logit models are estimated to assess the role of family structure on adolescent health outcomes and smoking, whereas discrete-time hazard models are used to estimate changes in these outcomes (e.g., quitting or starting smoking) after adolescence. These models are estimated separately for boys and girls. Results suggest that while most of the effect of family structure occurs during adolescence, there are residual effects of paternal absence in later life that can discourage smoking and reporting favorable health outcomes. Finally, the third essay uses panel data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) are used to test the hypothesis that increased father involvement as measured through any child support, informal support, in-kind support, and father-child contact (i.e., visitation) can have spillover effects on the mother’s mental health, as measured by depression. Maternal depression is an important outcome to consider as it is highly prevalent (especially in families headed by a single mother). Pooled linear probability models and fixed-effects models are estimated to clarify the relationship between various forms of nonresident father involvement on maternal depression. The results suggest that in-kind support is most protective for maternal depression. However, father visitation, especially when done so infrequently, can raise maternal depression levels.
Issue Date:2012-09-18
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Alexander Slade
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-09-18
Date Deposited:2012-08

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