Empirical Essays on Health and Human Capital

Abstract: This thesis includes one introductory chapter and three independent papers. The first paper adds to the broad literature regarding the effect of alcohol consumption on educational attainment. Given that no consensus exists in the literature regarding this paper adds to the literature by analyzing the effect of alcohol consumption on educational attainment using a life cycle approach. In addition, whereas many studies have analyzed a US context, this study used a dataset covering Swedish adolescents. The results in this paper show that alcohol consumption above the equivalence of two bottles of wine per week during gymnasium (tenth to twelfth grade), reduces the probability of continuing to university. Furthermore, among university students, the results indicate that those who abstain from alcohol finish university courses in a slower rate compared with those who do not abstain from alcohol. The second paper analyzed the effect of health on the probability of retiring. This paper used a dataset covering eleven European countries to analyze if the effect of health on the probability of retiring differs between the countries. To ensure cross-country comparability, this paper used overnight hospitalization as a proxy for a negative health shock. Given that individuals might not be randomized to either experience an overnight hospitalization or not, the paper used propensity score matching to avoid selection bias. When all eleven European countries were analyzed together, overnight hospitalization has a positive effect on the retiring probability. When analyzed separately, the results are mixed; overnight hospitalization has a positive effect on the retiring probability in some countries and no effect in some countries. The disparities in results can reflect differences in the institutional settings across countries. For instance, the access to rehabilitory care may differ between the countries. The third paper (co-authored with Sofie Gustafsson) analyzed the pharmaceutical-based health investments differences between immigrants and natives in Sweden. This paper used an interview survey combined with a registered database containing all prescribed pharmaceuticals. Immigrants were divided into the groups according to their region of origin: Nordic, Western and non-Western. The results show that there are differences in the utilization of prescribed pharmaceuticals between immigrants and natives. For instance, when looking at all pharmaceuticals analyzed together, males with a non-Western origin are less likely to access prescribed pharmaceuticals, compared with native males. Turning to specific pharmaceutical groups, the results show that immigrants, compared with natives, are less likely to have access to first-line treatments for high blood pressure, heart failure and kidney diseases.