||<p>This dissertation consists of three essays that study preventive health behaviors
among the elderly U.S.
population.</p><p>The first essay studies the effect of Medicare coverage on demand
for the influenza vaccine. I use a
propensity score matching estimator to look at the effect of the 1993 Medicare part
B coverage of
the flu shot on demand. Using data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary survey, I
the coverage increases demand by 12.4%. I also find that this effect varies by smoking
and by the presence chronic respiratory illnesses such as COPD, Asthma or Emphysema.</p><p>The
second essay examines the effect of disease specific health shocks on risk perceptions
and demand for
the pneumonia vaccine. I find strong evidence of learning - individuals who experience
a health shock are less
likely to believe that they are not at risk of infection, conditional on prior beliefs.
This change in beliefs
is accompanied by a corresponding change in demand. Individuals who contract pneumonia
or influenza are 60%
more likely to vaccinate by the end of next year as compared to those who are not
infected.</p><p>The third essay studies the relationship between education and health
for a sample of elderly diabetics.
We identify various mechanisms through which more education leads to improved health.
We find that part of
the strong positive correlation between educational attainment and health can be explained
through differences in
cognitive status, self-control and parental characteristics. However, some part of
this relationship still