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A discrete latent factor model of smoking, cancer and mortality

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Publication details

JournalEconomics and Human Biology
DateE-pub ahead of print - 3 Apr 2015
DatePublished (current) - Jul 2015
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)57-73
Early online date3/04/15
Original languageEnglish


This paper investigates the relationship between smoking and ill-health, with a focus on the onset of cancer. A discrete latent factor model for smoking and health outcomes, allowing for these to be commonly affected by unobserved factors, is jointly estimated, using the British Health and Lifestyle Survey (HALS) dataset. Post-estimation predictions suggest the reduction in time-to-cancer to be 5.7 years for those with an exposure of 30 pack-years, compared to never-smokers. Estimation of posterior probabilities for class membership shows that individuals in certain classes exhibit similar observables but highly divergent health outcomes, suggesting that unobserved factors influence outcomes. The use of a joint model changes the results substantially. The results show that failure to account for unobserved heterogeneity leads to differences in survival times between those with different smoking exposures to be overestimated by more than 50% (males, with 30 pack-years of exposure).

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© Elsevier 2015. This is an author produced version of a paper published in Economics and Human Biology. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.

    Research areas

  • Health inequality, Duration analysis, Smoking, Cancer

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