Does improving health affect earnings? Health care economist

According to a recent paper by Stephens and Toohy (2022)The answer is yes.

This paper examines the labor market effects of a randomized health intervention for working-age men that was focused on reducing deaths from coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. MRFIT succeeded in improving the health of the special intervention group on several dimensions. We found that the intervention also significantly increased earnings by 3 percent and household income by 4 percent with no concurrent effect on labor force participation.

The authors note that there are other potential causal mechanisms to consider. For example, perhaps better health makes you more attractive when looking at the opposite sex (or same sex) and attractiveness leads to higher earnings. Alternatively, it may be that better health leads to longer life which may affect human capital investments. Despite these alternative explanations, the authors found that the observed increase in wages is likely to have a direct effect of improving health on productivity.

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