Timothy Hinks and Andreas Katsaros provide some evidence that could further validate the rational addiction theory by looking at public smoking bans in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Using the British Household Panel Survey, which includes questions about happiness and smoking, they find that those who reduced their smoking show no change in happiness compared to those who did not change their smoking. But once public smoking bans were imposed, those who reduce smoking, in particular heavy smokers, exhibit decreases in happiness. In other words, they were forced to reduce smoking by being chased away from public places, and feel worse for it. That is consistent with the rational addiction theory in that imposing an unanticipated constraint makes people worse off.
Friday, 28 January 2011
For non-economists the idea of rational addition seems weird but there is data that supports the theory. From the Economic Logic blog comes this discussion of the effects of smoking bans on smokers: it makes some of them worse off.