Jeong, Yeongmi (2023). Three Essays in Health Economics.
In Chapter 1, I examine the effect of adolescent peers’ genetic risk for depression on own mental health. I exploit variation in same-gender grademates’ genetic risk within schools and across grades. I find that an increase in peers’ genetic risk for depression has immediate negative impacts on own mental health, and the effects persist into adulthood for females. As potential mechanisms, I find that an increase in peers’ genetic risk for depression in adolescence worsens friendship, increases substance use, and leads to lower socioeconomic status. Overall, the results suggest there are important social-genetic effects in the context of mental health. In Chapter 2, Meghan Skira and I examine whether genetic endowments linked to risky health behaviors explain variation in health. We find that among those aged 50–65, higher genetic predisposition for smoking is associated with worse health, even after controlling for individual smoking behavior and among those who have never smoked, suggesting the genetic endowments correlate with health through non-smoking channels. The genetic endowments for smoking correlate with longevity expectations, planning horizons, and measures of conscientiousness, but these channels do not fully explain the estimated relationship. Furthermore, we find that an increase in a spouse’s genetic risk for smoking intensity has adverse spillovers for own health. Overall, our results suggest the genetic factors linked to smoking capture a complex array of traits that correlate with less engagement in health-promoting activities. In Chapter 3, Nicholas Papageorge, Meghan Skira, Kevin Thom, and I find that individuals with higher genetic risk for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) have lower levels of cognition, lower propensities to work, and lower incomes, and these relationships hold even after conditioning on diagnosis of a memoryrelated disease. However, we also find that individuals at the greatest genetic risk for AD do not have systematically different expectations about their own mortality. Moreover, these individuals are less likely to engage in planning behaviors such as the acquisition of long-term care insurance. These results imply that efforts to encourage end-of-life planning might be particularly beneficial for those at greater risk for needing such services.
Department of Economics
University of Georgia