This paper investigates the role of biased health perceptions as a potential driving force ofrisky health behaviors. We define absolute and relative health perception biases, illustratetheir measurement in surveys and provide evidence on their relevance. Next, we decom-pose the theoretical effect into its extensive and intensive margin: When the extensivemargin dominates, people (wrongly) believe they are healthy enough to “afford” unhealthybehavior. Finally, using three population surveys, we provide robust empirical evidence that respondents who overestimate their health are less likely to exercise and sleep enough, but more likely to eat unhealthily and drink alcohol daily.

Arnia, Patrick, Davide Dragone, Lorenz Goette und Nicolas Ziebarth (2021), Biased health perceptions and risky health behaviors—Theory and evidence, Journal of Health Economics 76, 1-26.


Arnia, Patrick
Dragone, Davide
Goette, Lorenz
Ziebarth, Nicolas


Health bias, Health perceptions, Subjective beliefs, Overconfidence, Overoptimism, Risky behavior, Smoking, Obesity, Exercising