Objective: To investigate the impact of smoking on the wealth of US young baby boomers.
Methodology: The research analyses self reported responses of both smoking habits and wealth holdings from a nationally representative sample of US individuals born between 1957 to 1964 (n = 8908). Data are from four waves (1984, 1992, 1994, 1998) of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 cohort, a random survey of individuals conducted by the US Department of Labor using a stratified multistage area sample design.
Results: Regression results show lower net worth is associated with smoking, after holding constant a variety of demographic factors. Respondents who were ever heavy smokers are associated with a reduction in net worth of over $8300 while light smokers are $2000 poorer compared to non-smokers. Beyond this reduction, each adult year of smoking is associated with a decrease in net worth of $410 or almost 4%.
Conclusions: While a causal relation cannot be proven, smokers appear to pay for tobacco expenditures out of income that is saved by non-smokers. Hence, reductions in smoking will boost wealth, especially among the poor.
- AFQT, Armed Forces Qualification Test
- NLSY79, National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979
- net worth
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Competing interest statement: I have no competing interest in relation to this paper.