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How does the business cycle affect eating habits?

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  • Dave, Dhaval M.
  • Kelly, Inas Rashad

Abstract

As economic expansions raise employment and wages, associated shifts in income and time constraints would be expected to also impact individuals’ health. This study utilizes information from the US Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (1990–2009) to explore the relationship between the state unemployment rate and the consumption of various healthy and unhealthy foods in the United States. Estimates, based on fixed effects methodologies, indicate that unemployment is associated with reduced consumption of fruits and vegetables and increased consumption of “unhealthy” foods such as snacks and fast food. Heterogeneous responses are also identified through detailed sample stratifications and by isolating the effect for those predicted to be at highest risk of unemployment based on their socioeconomic characteristics. Among individuals predicted to be at highest risk of being unemployed, a one percentage point increase in the resident state’s unemployment rate is associated with a 3–6% reduction in the consumption of fruits and vegetables. The impact is somewhat higher among younger, low-educated, and married adults. Supplementary analyses also explore specific mediating pathways, and point to reduced family income and adverse mental health as significant channels underlying the procyclical nature of healthy food consumption.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

Volume (Year): 74 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 254-262

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Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:74:y:2012:i:2:p:254-262

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Keywords: Health; NutritionDiet; Unemployment; Business cycle; BRFSS; USA;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald & Sarah Stewart-Brown, 2012. "Is Psychological Well-being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables?," NBER Working Papers 18469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Dhaval M. Dave & Inas Rashad Kelly, 2010. "How Does the Business Cycle Affect Eating Habits?," NBER Working Papers 16638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Hoque, Mohammad Mainul & Kling, Catherine L. & Herriges, Joseph A., 2013. "Is Outdoor Recreation Recession-proof? An Empirical Investigation on Iowan’s Lake Recreation Behavior During 2009 Recession," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 150640, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  4. Gregory J. Colman & Dhaval M. Dave, 2011. "Exercise, Physical Activity, and Exertion over the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 17406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Sif Jónsdóttir & Tinna Ásgeirsdóttir, 2014. "The effect of job loss on body weight during an economic collapse," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer, vol. 15(6), pages 567-576, July.
  6. Maclean, Johanna Catherine, 2013. "The health effects of leaving school in a bad economy," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 951-964.
  7. Tinna Laufey Ásgeirsdóttir & Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Þórhildur Ólafsdóttir & Nancy E. Reichman, 2012. "Are Recessions Good for Your Health Behaviors? Impacts of the Economic Crisis in Iceland," NBER Working Papers 18233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Ásgeirsdóttir, Tinna Laufey & Corman, Hope & Noonan, Kelly & Ólafsdóttir, Þórhildur & Reichman, Nancy E., 2014. "Was the economic crisis of 2008 good for Icelanders? Impact on health behaviors," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 1-19.

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