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Are Restaurants Really Supersizing America?

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  • Anderson, Michael L.
  • Matsa, David A.

Abstract

While many researchers and policymakers infer from correlations between eating out and body weight that restaurants are a leading cause of obesity, a basic identification problem challenges these conclusions. We exploit the placement of Interstate highways in rural areas to obtain exogenous variation in the effective price of restaurants and examine the impact on body mass. We find no causal link between restaurant consumption and obesity. Analysis of food-intake micro-data suggests that consumers offset calories from restaurant meals by eating less at other times. We conclude that regulation targeting restaurants is unlikely to reduce obesity but could decrease consumer welfare.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley in its series Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series with number qt4vm5m5vr.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:agrebk:qt4vm5m5vr

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Keywords: economics of regulation; health production; obesity; fat tax; Social and Behavioral Sciences; Medicine and Health Sciences;

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  1. Jessica Wisdom & Julie S. Downs & George Loewenstein, 2010. "Promoting Healthy Choices: Information versus Convenience," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 164-78, April.
  2. Lesley Chiou, 2009. "Empirical Analysis of Competition between Wal-Mart and Other Retail Channels," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(2), pages 285-322, 06.
  3. Nicholas E. Piggott, 2003. "The Nested PIGLOG Model: An Application to U.S. Food Demand," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(1), pages 1-15.
  4. Chandra, Amitabh & Thompson, Eric, 2000. "Does public infrastructure affect economic activity?: Evidence from the rural interstate highway system," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 457-490, July.
  5. Joshua Angrist, 1989. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records," Working Papers 631, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  6. John L. Park & Rodney B. Holcomb & Kellie Curry Raper & Oral Capps, 1996. "A Demand Systems Analysis of Food Commodities by U.S. Households Segmented by Income," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(2), pages 290-300.
  7. Guy Michaels, 2008. "The Effect of Trade on the Demand for Skill: Evidence from the Interstate Highway System," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 683-701, November.
  8. Shin-Yi Chou & Michael Grossman & Henry Saffer, 2002. "An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," NBER Working Papers 9247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Peltzman, Sam, 1975. "The Effects of Automobile Safety Regulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(4), pages 677-725, August.
  10. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson & Jay Bhattacharya, 2005. "Welfare-Enhancing Technological Change and the Growth of Obesity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 253-257, May.
  11. Currie, Janet & DellaVigna, Stefano & Moretti, Enrico & Pathania, Vikram, 2009. "The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity," Working Papers 47830, American Association of Wine Economists.
  12. Thomas D. Jeitschko & Rowena A. Pecchenino, 2006. "Do You Want Fries with That? An Exploration of Serving Size, Social Welfare, and Our Waistlines," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 44(3), pages 442-450, July.
  13. 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.
  14. Adda, Jérôme & Cornaglia, Francesca, 2005. "Taxes, Cigarette Consumption and Smoking Intensity," IZA Discussion Papers 1849, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records: Errata," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1284-86, December.
  16. McFadden, Daniel, 1974. "The measurement of urban travel demand," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 303-328, November.
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