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Does More Money Make You Fat? The Effects of Quasi-Experimental Income Transfers on Adolescent and Young Adult Obesity

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Author Info

  • Akee, Randall K. Q.

    ()
    (University of California, Los Angeles)

  • Simeonova, Emilia

    ()
    (Tufts University)

  • Copeland, William

    ()
    (Duke University)

  • Angold, Adrian

    ()
    (Duke University)

  • Costello, Jane E.

    ()
    (Duke University)

Abstract

This paper examines how exogenous income transfers during adolescence affect contemporaneous body mass index (BMI) measures and young adult obesity rates using evidence from the Great Smoky Mountains Study of Youth. The effects of extra income differ depending on the households’ initial socio-economic status, tracing out an inverted U-shaped relationship between initial income and BMI. Youths who resided in families that had high pre-treatment annual incomes experience no change in young adult obesity rates as a result of the income transfers, while the BMI of poorer children increases. Part of this effect is due to differential increases in height, as well as weight. An exogenous annual transfer of $4,000 per adult family member results in an almost 4 cm gain in height-for-age. Adolescents coming from worse-off households experience an increase in weight only, without the corresponding change in height. The cumulative effects of the increase in household income persist for several years into young adulthood.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5135.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as 'Young Adult Obesity and Household Income: Effects of Unconditional Cash Transfers', American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2013, 5 (2), 1-28
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5135

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Related research

Keywords: adolescents; cash transfer; health; obesity; indigenous peoples;

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References

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  1. Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman & Shin-Yi Chou, 2005. "The Super Size of America: An Economic Estimation of Body Mass Index and Obesity in Adults," NBER Working Papers 11584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hoddinott, John & Skoufias, Emmanual, 2003. "The impact of Progresa on food consumption," FCND briefs 150, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  3. 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.
  4. Naci H. Mocan & Erdal Tekin, 2009. "Obesity, Self-esteem and Wages," NBER Working Papers 15101, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Lundborg, Petter & Nystedt, Paul & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2012. "Critical Periods during Childhood and Adolescence: A Study of Adult Height among Immigrant Siblings," Working Papers 2012:23, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  6. Janet Currie & Stefano DellaVigna & Enrico Moretti & Vikram Pathania, 2010. "The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity and Weight Gain," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 32-63, August.
  7. Halliday, Timothy J. & Kwak, Sally, 2009. "Weight gain in adolescents and their peers," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 181-190, July.
  8. Komlos, John & Breitfelder, Ariane & Sunder, Marco, 2008. "The transition to Post-industrial BMI values among US children," Discussion Papers in Economics 4304, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  9. Eric V. Edmonds, 2007. "Child Labor," NBER Working Papers 12926, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Smith Trenton G. & Stoddard Christiana & Barnes Michael G, 2009. "Why the Poor Get Fat: Weight Gain and Economic Insecurity," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(2), pages 1-31, June.
  11. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Diane Whitemore Schanzenbach, 2007. "Childhood Disadvantage and Obesity: Is Nurture Trumping Nature?," NBER Chapters, in: The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth: An Economic Perspective, pages 149-180 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Maurizio Mazzocco, 2007. "Household Intertemporal Behaviour: A Collective Characterization and a Test of Commitment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 857-895.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Does More Money Make You Fat?
    by Ariel Goldring in Free Market Mojo on 2010-09-05 11:09:34
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Cited by:
  1. Chavas, Jean-Paul, 2013. "On the microeconomics of food and malnutrition under endogenous discounting," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 80-96.
  2. Tafreschi, Darjusch, 2011. "The Income Body Weight Gradients in the Developing Economy of China," Economics Working Paper Series 1140, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
  3. Felfe, Christina & Deuchert. Eva, 2011. "The tempest: Using a natural disaster to evaluate the link between wealth and child development," Economics Working Paper Series 1146, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
  4. Eva Deuchert & Christina Felfe, 2013. "The Tempest: Natural Disasters, Early Shocks and Children's Short- and Long-Run Development," CESifo Working Paper Series 4168, CESifo Group Munich.

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