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Review 1: Obesity, Unhappiness, and The Challenge of Affluence: Theory and Evidence

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Author Info

  • Andrew J. Oswald
  • Nattavudh Powdthavee

Abstract

Is affluence a good thing? The book "The Challenge of Affluence" by Avner Offer (2006) argues that economic prosperity weakens self-control and undermines human well-being. Consistent with a pessimistic view, we show that psychological distress has been rising through time in modern Great Britain. Taking over-eating as an example, our data reveal that half the British population view themselves as overweight, and that happiness and mental health are worse among fatter people in Britain and Germany. Comparisons also matter. We discuss problems of inference and argue that longitudinal data are needed. We suggest a theory of obesity imitation where utility depends on relative weight. Copyright 2007 The Author(s). Journal compilation Royal Economic Society 2007.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 117 (2007)
Issue (Month): 521 (06)
Pages: 441-454

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:117:y:2007:i:521:p:441-454

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Cited by:
  1. Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2012. "Resilience to Economic Shocks and the Long Reach of Childhood Bullying," CEP Discussion Papers dp1173, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Powdthavee, Nattavudh & van den Berg, Bernard, 2011. "Putting different price tags on the same health condition: Re-evaluating the well-being valuation approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1032-1043.
  3. Joan Gil & Toni Mora, 2009. "The Determinants of Misreporting Weight and Height: The Role of Social Norms," Working Papers 2009-01, FEDEA.
  4. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2013. "Happiness economics," SERIEs, Spanish Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 35-60, March.
  5. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "Hypertension and happiness across nations," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 218-233, March.
  6. Van Landeghem, Bert, 2012. "A test for the convexity of human well-being over the life cycle: Longitudinal evidence from a 20-year panel," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 571-582.
  7. Avner Offer & Rachel Pechey & Stanley Ulijaszek, 2010. "Obesity under affluence varies by welfare regimes: the effect of fast food, insecurity, and inequality," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _082, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  8. Johnston, David W. & Lordan, Grace, 2014. "Weight perceptions, weight control and income: An analysis using British data," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 12(C), pages 132-139.
  9. Johnston, D.W.; & Lordan, G.;, 2012. "My body is fat and my wallet is thin: The link between weight perceptions, weight control and income," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 12/27, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  10. Rablen, Matthew D. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "Mortality and immortality: The Nobel Prize as an experiment into the effect of status upon longevity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 1462-1471, December.
  11. Kavetsos, Georgios, 2011. "The impact of physical activity on employment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 775-779.
  12. Huang, Haifang & Humphreys, Brad, 2010. "Sports Participation and Happiness: Evidence from U.S. Micro Data," Working Papers 2010-9, University of Alberta, Department of Economics, revised 01 Dec 2010.
  13. David Madden, 2011. "The Impact of an Economic Boom on the Level and Distribution of Subjective Well-Being: Ireland, 1994–2001," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 667-679, August.

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