Expenditure Responses to Adverse Health Shocks: Evidence from a Panel of Colombian Households

Listed in SocArXiv, 2023

Listed in Documentos de Trabajo Facultad de Economía Universidad del Rosario, 2023

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With Darwin Cortés and Andrés Gallegos

Abstract: We analyze the effect of adverse health shocks on households’ expenditure shares in different good categories using a fixed-effects approach and a structural approach based on microeconomic theory. We find that households substitute health and food expenditure in response to adverse health shocks. We find substantial heterogeneity in this trade-off between current and future health mediated by access to social protection, job contract type, and location (urban-rural). Households from rural areas –where household heads are more likely to hold informal jobs and lack access to safety nets– are more vulnerable than others. Our findings suggest that access to formal employment and a higher quality of local institutions can help mitigate the negative consequences of health shocks.