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The effects of female labor force participation on obesity

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  • Pere Gomis-Porqueras
  • Oscar A. Mitnik
  • Adrian Peralta-Alva
  • Maximilian D. Schmeiser

Abstract

This paper assesses whether a causal relationship exists between recent increases in female labor force participation and the increased prevalence of obesity amongst women. The expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in the 1980s and 1990s have been established by prior literature as having generated variation in female labor supply, particularly amongst single mothers. Here, we use this plausibly exogenous variation in female labor supply to identify the effect of labor force participation on obesity status. We use data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and replicate labor supply effects of the EITC expansions found in previous literature. This validates employing a difference-in-differences estimation strategy in the NHIS data, as has been done in several other data sets. Depending on the specification, we find that increased labor force participation can account for at most 19% of the observed change in obesity prevalence over our sample period. Our preferred specification, however, suggests that there is no causal link between increased female labor force participation and increased obesity.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2011-035.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2011-035

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Keywords: Women - Employment ; Obesity ; Tax credits;

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  1. Helen H. Jensen & Steven T. Yen, 1995. "U.S. Food Expenditures Away From Home by Type of Meal," Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications 95-wp143, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
  2. Helen H. Jensen & Steven T. Yen, 1996. "Food Expenditures Away From Home by Type of Meal," Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 44(1), pages 67-80, 03.
  3. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 1999. "Welfare, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Labor Supply of Single Mothers," NBER Working Papers 7363, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Maximilian D. Schmeiser, 2009. "Expanding wallets and waistlines: the impact of family income on the BMI of women and men eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(11), pages 1277-1294.
  5. 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.
  6. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 93-118, Summer.
  7. Cawley, John (ed.), 2011. "The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, number 9780199736362, October.
  8. 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.
  9. Eissa, Nada & Hoynes, Hilary Williamson, 2004. "Taxes and the labor market participation of married couples: the earned income tax credit," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1931-1958, August.
  10. Raj Chetty & Emmanuel Saez, 2009. "Teaching the Tax Code: Earnings Responses to an Experiment with EITC Recipients," NBER Working Papers 14836, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  13. Cancian, Maria & Levinson, Arik, 2006. "Labor Supply Effects of the Earned Income Tax Credit: Evidence from Wisconsin's Supplemental Benefit for Families with Three Children," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 59(4), pages 781-800, December.
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  15. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2007. "Labor Supply and Weight," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(1).
  16. 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.
  17. Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2001. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262232197, December.
  18. Pere Gomis-Porqueras & Adrian Peralta-Alva, 2008. "A macroeconomic analysis of obesity," Working Papers, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis 2008-017, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  19. Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward & Cutler, David, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," Scholarly Articles 2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Daouli, Joan & Davillas, Apostolos & Demoussis, Michael & Giannakopoulos, Nicholas, 2014. "Obesity persistence and duration dependence: Evidence from a cohort of US adults (1985–2010)," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 12(C), pages 30-44.

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