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Do the Obese Really Die Younger or Do Health Expenditures Buy Them Extra Years?

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Author Info

  • Frijters, Paul

    ()
    (University of Queensland)

  • Barón, Juan D.

    ()
    (World Bank)

Abstract

A recent debate in the medical literature has arisen around the mortality effects of obesity. Whereas it has been argued that the obese die younger, the data that have become available do not immediately support this. This potentially undermines the hypothesis that modern life with its physical ease and cheap food would eventually make us die younger, and undermines the notion that economic growth comes with health warnings. We revisit this debate going over the mortality effects of obesity, using the US Health and Retirement Study. Whilst we find that obesity leads to chronic diseases that reduce length of life, we also find that the obese survive strokes and lung disease more often than the non-obese. A possible explanation is that the obese are under greater medical scrutiny, meaning that lung disease is more quickly diagnosed. This result holds when controlling for smoking and the long-term effects of obesity.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4149.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4149

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Related research

Keywords: obesity; longitudinal data; mortality; smoking; reverse-causality;

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References

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  1. Frank A. Sloan & Jan Ostermann & Christopher Conover & Donald H. Taylor, Jr. & Gabriel Picone, 2006. "The Price of Smoking," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262693453, December.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. The Mental Health puzzle, part IV: the economic hypothesis.
    by Paul Frijters in Core Economics on 2013-06-11 01:09:26
  2. The Mental Health puzzle, part IV: the economic hypothesis.
    by Paul Frijters in Club Troppo on 2013-06-11 01:09:58
  3. The Mental Health puzzle, part IV: the economic hypothesis.
    by ? in Core Economics on 2013-06-11 02:09:00

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