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The Weight of Success: The Body Mass Index and Economic Well-being in South Africa

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  • Martin Wittenberg

    ()
    (DataFirst, SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town)

Abstract

We show that body mass increases with economics resources among most South Africans, although not all. Among Black South Africans the relationship is non-decreasing over virtually the entire range of incomes/wealth. Furthermore in this groupd other measures of success (e.g. employment and education) are also associated with increases in body mass. This is true both in 1998 (the Demographic and Health Survey) and 2008 (National Income Dynamics Survey). This suggests the body mass can be used as a crude measure of wellbeing. Used in this way it suggests that unemployment is involuntary. This is true even if we control for household fixed effects. This is joint SALDRU/DataFirst Working Paper as part of the Mellon Data Quality Project.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town in its series SALDRU Working Papers with number 65.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ldr:wpaper:65

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Keywords: obesity; asset index; body mass index;

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  1. Tomas J. Philipson & Richard A. Posner, 1999. "The Long-Run Growth in Obesity as a Function of Technological Change," Working Papers 9912, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  2. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," Working Papers 0203, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  3. 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.
  4. David E. Sahn & Stephen D. Younger, 2009. "Measuring intra‐household health inequality: explorations using the body mass index," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(S1), pages S13-S36, April.
  5. Anne Case & Alicia Menendez, 2007. "Sex Differences in Obesity Rates in Poor Countries: Evidence from South Africa," Working Papers 1004, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  6. Cutler, David & Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," Scholarly Articles 2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Wittenberg, Martin, 2011. "Estimating expenditure impacts without expenditure data using asset proxies," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 110(2), pages 122-125, February.
  8. Cally Ardington & Boingotlo Gasealahwe, 2012. "Health: Analysis of the NIDS Wave 1 and 2 Datasets," SALDRU Working Papers 80, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
  9. Molini, Vasco & Nubé, Maarten & van den Boom, Bart, 2010. "Adult BMI as a Health and Nutritional Inequality Measure: Applications at Macro and Micro Levels," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 1012-1023, July.
  10. Popkin, Barry M., 1999. "Urbanization, Lifestyle Changes and the Nutrition Transition," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(11), pages 1905-1916, November.
  11. Filmer, Deon & Pritchett, Lant, 1998. "Estimating wealth effects without expenditure data - or tears : with an application to educational enrollments in states of India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1994, The World Bank.
  12. John Cawley, 2000. "Body Weight and Women's Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 7841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Martin Wittenberg, 2009. "Weighing the value of Asset Proxies: The case of the Body Mass Index in South Africa," SALDRU Working Papers 39, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
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