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The Impact of Public Policy on Healthy Lifestyles

Priority areas of development: economics
Department: Laboratory of Public Sector Economic Research
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

Research Object: Public policies and specific measures that promote a healthy lifestyle.

Research Objective: To identify and assess the effects (both potential and ex post) of public policy measures that promote a healthy lifestyle in the Russian Federation. Under this objective, the following tasks were accomplished:

  • We studied international experience in the field of healthy lifestyle policies in countries comparable with Russia in terms of social and economic characteristics or in countries facing similar lifestyle problems (CIS, East European, and Baltic states). We classified programmes that promote a healthy lifestyle and have explored best practice examples.
  • Using micro- and macro-level data, we empirically proved a relationship between a number of healthy lifestyle policy measures and individual behavior.
  • We compared individuals’ attitudes towards a number of policy measures, using different demographic and economic variables, including different individual time rate preferences.
  • We studied the main elements of healthy lifestyle programmes that Russian employers introduce to invest in employee health and the enterprise-level characteristics that favor the implementation of such programmes.

Empirical Data: We based our research on official statistical data (Rosstat), international publications, and open Internet resources, including information about healthy lifestyle policies, programmes, concepts, etc, initiated in CIS, East European and Baltic states. We have examined theoretical and empirical papers on an individual discount rate and its impact on lifestyle choice. We have used different complementary databases: the RLMS-HSE survey (http://www.hse.ru/science/rlms; and individual and enterprise surveys conducted specifically for the HSE in 2011.

The results of the study are as follows:

  • the identification of the measures and initiatives that are most effective in promoting a healthy lifestyle in CIS, East European, and Baltic states;
  • the evaluation of the experence of organizing healthy lifestyle projects/programmes in CIS, East European, and Baltic states, and recommendations for planning and administering healthy lifestyle programmes in Russia;
  • an analysis of individuals’ attitudes towards current policy measures adopted in Russia (minimum price on vodka, time limits on night-time sales of alcohol, new written warnings about the negative effects of smoking, and healthy lifestyle information campaigns);
  • the positive attitudes of the Russian people towards planned healthy lifestyle initiatives, including the ban on smoking in public places, and increasing the price of alcohol and cigarettes;
  • an econometric analysis of factors impacting the Russian population's attitudes towards different policy measures; the analysis confirmed the impact of not only the respondents' lifestyle habits but also their sex, age, region of habitation, and other personal characteristics;
  • empirical estimates of an individual time preference rate, confirming a positive correlation between an individual time preference rate and the probability of choosing an unhealthy lifestyle;
  • recommendations on public policy measures with respect to the social and economic characteristics of the target groups, including not only obvious differences in sex, age, education, and family status but also an individual time preference rate;
  • empirical estimates of enterprise-level initiatives aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle in Russian enterprises and the factors that influence the propensity of Russian enterprises to invest in employee health;
  • recommendations on public policy measures with regards to stimulating Russian enterprises to introduce healthy lifestyle programmes.

The research findings can be used to justify recommendations on improving healthy lifestyle policies in Russia and when preparing concepts and drafting legal acts  whose adoption is necessary to implement targeted public policies concerning a healthy lifestyle.


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