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Health status, mental health and air quality: evidence from pensioners in Europe
- Giovanis, Eleftherios, Ozdamar, Oznur
- Environmental science and pollution research international 2018 v.25 no.14 pp. 14206-14225
- air pollutants, air pollution, air quality, education, empirical research, health care costs, health status, issues and policy, least squares, lifestyle, marital status, mental health, ozone, public health, quantitative analysis, socioeconomic status, structural equation modeling, sulfur dioxide, surveys, willingness to pay, Europe
- Environmental quality is an important determinant of individuals’ well-being and one of the main concerns of the governments is the improvement on air quality and the protection of public health. This is especially the case of sensitive demographic groups, such as the old aged people. However, the question this study attempts to answer is how do individuals value the effects on the environment. The study explores the effects of old and early public pension schemes, as well as the impact of air pollution on health status of retired citizens. The empirical analysis relies on detailed micro-level data derived from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). As proxies for health, we use the general health status and the Eurod mental health indicator. We examine two air pollutants: the sulphur dioxide (SO₂) and ground-level ozone (O₃). Next, we calculate the marginal willingness-to-pay (MWTP) which shows how much the people are willing to pay for improvement in air quality. We apply various quantitative techniques and approaches, including the fixed effects ordinary least squares (OLS) and the fixed effects instrumental variables (IV) approach. The last approach is applied to reduce the endogeneity problem coming from possible reverse causality between the air pollution, pensions and the health outcomes. For robustness check, we apply also a structural equation modelling (SEM) which is proper when the outcomes are latent variables. Based on our favoured IV estimates and the health status, we find that the MWTP values for one unit decrease in SO₂ and O₃ are respectively €221 and €88 per year. The respective MWTP values using the Eurod measure are €155 and €68. Overall, improvement of health status implies reduction in health expenditures, and in previous literature, ageing has been traditionally considered the most important determinant. However, this study shows that health lifestyle and socio-economic status, such as education and marital status, are more important, and furthermore, air pollution cannot be ignored in the agenda of policy makers.