To those of us in the pet sector, there should be little surprise when we say that emotions over pet care and human family care strike the same notes in the average US household. After all, a whopping 95% of people with pets consider them part of the family. This is a striking and encouraging increase from the early 2000’s when I formally began working in the pet industry — the concept was just starting to take root and be explored by media, businesses and the global community. Petfinder.com was just a few years old and surprising most people by surviving the dot-com bubble bursting. But I digress.
Recently a group of MIT economists have taken up the subject of examining why spending in human healthcare is so high — and are using our care for our pets as a model.
The study summary reads:
We document four similarities between American human healthcare and American pet care: (i) rapid growth in spending as a share of GDP over the last two decades; (ii) strong income-spending gradient; (iii) rapid growth in the employment of healthcare providers; and (iv) similar propensity for high spending at the end of life. We speculate about possible implications of these similar patterns in two sectors that share many common features but differ markedly in institutional features, such as the prevalence of insurance and of public sector involvement.
Don’t miss the NYTimes’ review of the study findings and why, perhaps, this model could be more reliable a judge of a human healthcare market that’s fixed in the public’s eye — and pocketbook.
What other areas do you think our relationships with pets can provide predictors of human behavior? Comment below.