Body image, peer effects and food disorders: Evidence from a sample of European women
AbstractExcessive preoccupation with self-image has been pinpointed as a factor contributing to the proliferation of food disorders, especially among young women. To provide an economic basis for this argument this paper models how ‘self-image’ and ‘other people’s appearance’ influence health-related behaviour. Self-image (identity) is claimed to be biased towards anorexic women by social norms and peer pressure, increasing the probability of women experiencing a food disorder. This paper empirically tests this claim using data from a representative, cross-sectional European survey for 2004. A two-step empirical strategy was used. First, the probability was estimated of a woman ‘being extremely thin’ and at the same time ‘seeing herself as too fat’. The findings revealed robust evidence suggesting that (different definitions of) peer effects average out, and that a larger peer body-mass decreases the likelihood of being anorexic. Second, the two processes were estimated separately, using a recursive system, which suggested that self-image was associated with body weight when unobservable variables explaining both processes were controlled for. (These processes were found to be positively and significantly correlated). As expected, several definitions of peers’ body mass were found to decrease the likelihood of women being thin or extremely thin, when common unobservable variables were controlled for.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Department of Economics, City University London in its series Working Papers with number 10/01.
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: Department of Economics, Social Sciences Building, City University London, Whiskin Street, London, EC1R 0JD, United Kingdom,
Phone: +44 (0)20 7040 8500
Web page: http://www.city.ac.uk
More information through EDIRC
self-image; identity; body image; eating disorders; anorexia;
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- 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.
- Blanchflower, D.G. & Oswald, A.J. & Van Landeghem, Bert, 2008. "Imitative obesity and relative utility," Open Access publications from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven urn:hdl:123456789/223710, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
- Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J. & Van Landeghem, Bert, 2009. "Imitative Obesity and Relative Utility," IZA Discussion Papers 4010, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002.
"The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination,"
NBER Working Papers
8946, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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.
- Howard Bodenhorn & Christopher S. Ruebeck, 2003. "The Economics of Identity and the Endogeneity of Race," NBER Working Papers 9962, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Manski, Charles F, 1993.
"Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem,"
Review of Economic Studies,
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
- Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1998. "Comparison-concave utility and following behaviour in social and economic settings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 133-155, October.
- Trogdon, Justin G. & Nonnemaker, James & Pais, Joanne, 2008. "Peer effects in adolescent overweight," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1388-1399, September.
- Lombardini-Riipinen, Chiara & Lankoski, Leena, 2010. "Take off the heater: Utility effect and food environment effect in food consumption decisions," 115th Joint EAAE/AAEA Seminar, September 15-17, 2010, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany 116431, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Research Publications Librarian).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.