Working paper

Health capital norms and intergenerational transmission of non-communicable chronic diseases

Catarina Goulão, and Agustín Pérez-Barahona


We look at how social norms regarding health aect the dynamics of an epidemic of NCDs. We present an overlapping generations model in which agents live for three periods (childhood, adulthood and old age). Adulthood consumption choices have a impact on the health capital of the following period, which is in part inherited by their ospring and aects their osprings' probability of developing a NCD. As a result of this intergenerational externality, agents would choose lower health conditions and higher unhealthy activities than that which is socially optimal. In addition, parental choices aect their own old age health capital with which their ospring compare their own. A social norm imposing agents to be as healthy as the previous generation balances the negative eects of unhealthy adulthood choices. Fiscal policies alone or combined with public policies regarding social norms can be used to restore optimality. Our results underline the interplay between sin taxes and health-related social norms.


Health capital; Chronic diseases and obesity; Social transmission; Intergenerational social norms;

JEL codes

  • H21: Efficiency • Optimal Taxation
  • H23: Externalities • Redistributive Effects • Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
  • I18: Government Policy • Regulation • Public Health


Catarina Goulão, and Agustín Pérez-Barahona, Health capital norms and intergenerational transmission of non-communicable chronic diseases, TSE Working Paper, n. 21-1236, July 2021.

See also

Published in

TSE Working Paper, n. 21-1236, July 2021