Do Spa Visits Improve Health: Evidence from German Micro Data

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The health benefits of spas have been hypothesized for centuries. If this hypothesis is correct, spa therapy offers a low cost alternative to more expensive and potentially more invasive medical treatments for ailments such as back pain and arthritis. We use individual-level panel data to isolate the effect of spa therapy on missed work days and hospital visits in Germany. Simple correlations suggest a self-selection bias - spa visits are associated with increased absenteeism and hospitalization. However, when we exploit the longitudinal nature of the data, we find that spa therapy leads to a statistically significant reduction in both absenteeism and hospitalization, though it is not clear if these health benefits justify the cost of spa therapy.


alternative medicine, insurance, hospitalization, medical expenditures

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Eastern Economic Journal

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