Overweight and Poor? On the Relationship between Income and the Body Mass Index
AbstractContrary to conventional wisdom, NHANES data indicate that the poor have never had a statistically significant higher prevalence of overweight status at any time in the last 35 years. Despite this empirical evidence, the view that the poor are less healthy in terms of excess accumulation of fat persists. This paper provides evidence that conventional wisdom is reflecting important differences in the relationship between income and the body mass index. The first finding is based on distribution-sensitive measures of overweight which indicates that the severity of overweight has been higher for the poor than the nonpoor throughout the last 35 years. The second finding is from a newly introduced estimator, unconditional quantile regression (UQR), which provides a measure of the income-gradient in BMI at different points on the unconditional BMI distribution. The UQR estimator indicates that the strongest relationship between income and BMI is observed at the tails of the distribution. There is a strong negative income gradient in BMI at the obesity threshold and some evidence of a positive gradient at the underweight threshold. Both of these UQR estimates imply that for those at the tails of the BMI distribution, increases in income are correlated with healthier BMI values.
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 Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5366.
Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economics and Human Biology, 2011, 9 (3), 342-55.
Contact details of provider:
Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page: http://www.iza.org
Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Other versions of this item:
- Jolliffe, Dean, 2011. "Overweight and poor? On the relationship between income and the body mass index," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 342-355.
- I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
- I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
- I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
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.:
- Binh Nguyen & James Albrecht & Susan Vroman & Daniel Westbrook, 2003.
"A Quantile Regression Decomposition of Urban-Rural Inequality in Vietnam,"
Working Papers, Georgetown University, Department of Economics
gueconwpa~03-03-31, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
- Nguyen, Binh T. & Albrecht, James W. & Vroman, Susan B. & Westbrook, M. Daniel, 2007. "A quantile regression decomposition of urban-rural inequality in Vietnam," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 466-490, July.
- Stifel, David C. & Averett, Susan L., 2009. "Childhood overweight in the United States: A quantile regression approach," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 387-397, December.
- Dean Jolliffe & Anastassia Semykina, 2000. "Robust standard errors for the Foster-Greer-Thorbecke class of poverty indices," Stata Technical Bulletin, StataCorp LP, StataCorp LP, vol. 9(51).
- David Cutler & Edward Glaeser & Jesse Shapiro, 2003.
"Why Have Americans Become More Obese?,"
NBER Working Papers
9446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 93-118, Summer.
- David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research 1994, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson & Jay Bhattacharya, 2005. "Welfare-Enhancing Technological Change and the Growth of Obesity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 253-257, May.
- Dean Jolliffe, 2004. "Continuous and robust measures of the overweight epidemic: 1971–2000," Demography, Springer, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 303-314, May.
- Harry Anthony Patrinos & Chris Sakellariou, 2006.
"Economic volatility and returns to education in Venezuela: 1992-2002,"
Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals,
Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(17), pages 1991-2005.
- Patrinos, Harry Anthony & Sakellariou, Chris, 2004. "Economic volatility and returns to education in Venezuela : 1992-2002," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 3459, The World Bank.
- 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, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago 0203, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
- Tafreschi, Darjusch, 2011. "The Income Body Weight Gradients in the Developing Economy of China," Economics Working Paper Series, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science 1140, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
- Strulik, Holger, 2014.
"A mass phenomenon: The social evolution of obesity,"
Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier,
Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 113-125.
- Strulik, Holger, 2012. "A Mass Phenomenon: The Social Evolution of Obesity," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP), Leibniz UniversitÃ¤t Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche FakultÃ¤t dp-489, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
- Rosinger, Asher & Tanner, Susan & Leonard, William R., 2013. "Precursors to overnutrition: The effects of household market food expenditures on measures of body composition among Tsimane' adults in lowland Bolivia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 53-60.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.