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Limited Self-Control, Obesity and the Loss of Happiness

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  • Alois Stutzer

    ()
    (University of Basel)

Abstract

Obesity has become a major health issue. Research in economics has provided important insights as to how technological progress reduced the relative price of food and contributed to the increase in obesity. However, the increased availability of food might well have overstrained will power and led to suboptimal consumption decisions relative to people’s own standards. We propose the economics of happiness as an approach to study the phenomenon. Based on proxy measures for experienced utility, it is possible to directly address whether certain observed behavior is suboptimal and therefore reduces a person’s well-being. It is found that obesity decreases the well-being of individuals who report limited self-control, but not otherwise.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel in its series Working papers with number 2007/07.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:bsl:wpaper:2007/07

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Related research

Keywords: obesity; revealed preference; self-control problem; subjective well-being;

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References

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  1. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," Working Papers 0203, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  2. Christine Benesch & Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2006. "TV Channels, Self Control and Happiness," Working papers 2006/05, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
  3. Stefano DellaVigna & M. Daniele Paserman, 2004. "Job Search and Impatience," NBER Working Papers 10837, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Shin-Yi Chou & Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman, 2005. "Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Childhood Obesity," NBER Working Papers 11879, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Charles L. Baum & William F. Ford, 2004. "The wage effects of obesity: a longitudinal study," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(9), pages 885-899.
  6. Gruber, Jonathan & Frakes, Michael, 2006. "Does falling smoking lead to rising obesity?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 183-197, March.
  7. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2007. "Obesity, Unhappiness, and The Challenge of Affluence: Theory and Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 2717, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Komlos, John & Smith, Patricia K. & Bogin, Barry, 2003. "Obesity and the Rate of Time Preference: Is there a Connection?," Discussion Papers in Economics 60, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  9. Offer, Avner, 2007. "The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain since 1950," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199216628.
  10. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy & Tom Tyler, 2007. "Measuring Self-Control Problems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 966-972, June.
  11. Inas Rashad, 2006. "Structural Estimation of Caloric Intake, Exercise, Smoking, and Obesity," NBER Working Papers 11957, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin Butcher, 2004. "Reading, writing, and raisinets: are school finances contributing to children’s obesity?," Working Paper Series WP-04-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  13. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy & Tom Tyler, 2004. "Measuring Self-Control," NBER Working Papers 10514, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Trenton Smith, 2006. "Reconciling Psychology with Economics - Obesity, Behavioral Biology, and Rational Overeating," Working Papers 2006-4, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.
  15. Borghans,Lex & Golsteyn,Bart H.H., 2005. "Time Discounting and the Body Mass Index," ROA Research Memorandum 006, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
  16. Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna, 2005. "The Obesity Epidemic in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 1814, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Jayachandran N. Variyam & John Cawley, 2006. "Nutrition Labels and Obesity," NBER Working Papers 11956, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Pugno, Maurizio, 2013. "Scitovsky and the income-happiness paradox," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 1-10.
  2. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald & Bert Van Landeghem, 2008. "Imitative Obesity and Relative Utility," NBER Working Papers 14337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Marina Selini Katsaiti, 2012. "Obesity and happiness," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(31), pages 4101-4114, November.
  4. Daniel J. Benjamin & Ori Heffetz & Miles S. Kimball & Alex Rees-Jones, 2010. "Do People Seek to Maximize Happiness? Evidence from New Surveys," NBER Working Papers 16489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Viviana Di Giovinazzo, 2010. "Towards an alternative paradigm of consumer behavior," Working Papers 179, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2010.

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