Another reason why fluoridation is good for you, and why women who grew up in Queensland might earn lower wages.

The Economic Value of Teeth
by Sherry Glied, Matthew Neidell
Healthy teeth are a vital and visible component of general well-being, but there is little systematic evidence to demonstrate their economic value. In this paper, we examine one element of that value, the effect of oral health on labor market outcomes, by exploiting variation in access to fluoridated water during childhood. The politics surrounding the adoption of water fluoridation by local water districts suggests exposure to fluoride during childhood is exogenous to other factors affecting earnings. We find that women who resided in communities with fluoridated water during childhood earn approximately 4% more than women who did not, but we find no effect of fluoridation for men. Furthermore, the effect is almost exclusively concentrated amongst women from families of low socioeconomic status. We find little evidence to support occupational sorting, statistical discrimination, and productivity as potential channels of these effects, suggesting consumer and employer discrimination are the likely driving factors whereby oral health affects earning.

(Philip Clarke: I guess we can now forget about writing that paper together!)

This entry was posted in Health economics. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Smile!

  1. nyscof says:

    Unfortunately, the evidence shows that the most toothless populations live in states that have the most fluoridation.
    So it might be that people with good teeth have good jobs and can afford to buy bottled water and avoid their fluoridated tap water. Hence the conclusions of this report are suspect

  2. christine says:

    nyscof: then wouldn’t you expect to find that all individuals from states with less fluoridation and individuals from high SES families who grew up in states with more flouridation would earn higher incomes (if the neurological worries were serious)? Which is precisely the opposite of what the paper found?

    BTW, I’m pretty sure that lots of Qld families used fluoride supplements – mine certainly did. Very pretty multicoloured things, they were.

Comments are closed.