Health and wellbeing spillovers of a partner’s cancer diagnosis

Major health shocks can have far-reaching implications for the welfare of an individual’s support and emotional network. This paper investigates both long-term and short-term spillover effects of a major non-communicable health shock, namely a cancer diagnosis (CD), on the health and well-being of an individual’s partner. We rely on data from a longitudinal sample of individuals over fifty from 19 European countries. Our estimates provide economically relevant evidence of the spillovers of a CD on the partner’s mental health and well-being. We document a robust and time persisting negative relationship between a partner’s CD and several measures of well-being, which is not driven by changes in health behaviors. These findings suggest that focusing solely on the individual economic impact of a CD will likely underestimate its long-term welfare effects unless the external effects on the emotional support network are considered.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is een denktank en kennisnetwerk. Netspar is gericht op een goed geïnformeerd pensioendebat.

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