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Race, Social Class, and Bulimia Nervosa

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  • Goeree, Michelle S.

    ()
    (University of Zurich)

  • Ham, John C.

    ()
    (University of Maryland)

  • Iorio, Daniela

    ()
    (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Abstract

In this paper we explore a serious eating disorder, bulimia nervosa (BN), which afflicts a surprising number of girls in the US. We challenge the long-held belief that BN primarily affects high income White teenagers, using a unique data set on adolescent females evaluated regarding their tendencies towards bulimic behaviors independent of any diagnoses or treatment they have received. Our results reveal that African Americans are more likely to exhibit bulimic behavior than Whites; as are girls from low income families compared to middle and high income families. We use another data set to show that who is diagnosed with an eating disorder is in accord with popular beliefs, suggesting that African American and low-income girls are being under-diagnosed for BN. Our findings have important implications for public policy since they provide direction to policy makers regarding which adolescent females are most at risk for BN. Our results are robust to different model specifications and identifying assumptions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5823.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5823

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Keywords: bulimia nervosa; race; income; education;

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  1. Kemptner, Daniel & Jürges, Hendrik & Reinhold, Steffen, 2011. "Changes in compulsory schooling and the causal effect of education on health: Evidence from Germany," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 340-354, March.
  2. Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2005. "Simple solutions to the initial conditions problem in dynamic, nonlinear panel data models with unobserved heterogeneity," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(1), pages 39-54.
  3. Thompson, Owen, 2011. "Racial disparities in the cognition-health relationship," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 328-339, March.
  4. Michelle S. Goeree & John C. Ham & Daniela Iorio, 2009. "Caught in the bulimic trap? Persistence and state dependence of bulimia among young women," IEW - Working Papers 447, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich, revised Jul 2012.
  5. Michelle Goeree & John Ham & Daniela Iorio, 2011. "Caught in the Bulimic Trap? Persistence and State Dependence of Bulimia Among Young Women," Working Papers, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group 2011-033, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  6. Anirban Basu & James J. Heckman & Salvador Navarro-Lozano & Sergio Urzua, 2007. "Use of instrumental variables in the presence of heterogeneity and self-selection: an application to treatments of breast cancer patients," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(11), pages 1133-1157.
  7. 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.
  8. Tenn, Steven & Herman, Douglas A. & Wendling, Brett, 2010. "The role of education in the production of health: An empirical analysis of smoking behavior," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 404-417, May.
  9. Tomas J. Philipson & Richard A. Posner, 2008. "Is the Obesity Epidemic a Public Health Problem? A Review of Zoltan J. Acs and Alan Lyles's Obesity, Business and Public Policy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(4), pages 974-82, December.
  10. Tomas Philipson & Richard Posner, 2008. "Is the Obesity Epidemic a Public Health Problem? A Decade of Research on the Economics of Obesity," NBER Working Papers 14010, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Khanam, Rasheda & Nghiem, Hong Son & Connelly, Luke B., 2009. "Child health and the income gradient: Evidence from Australia," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 805-817, July.
  12. James P. Smith, 2007. "The Impact of Socioeconomic Status on Health over the Life-Course," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(4).
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