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Effects of Urban Sprawl on Obesity

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  • Zhenxiang Zhao
  • Robert Kaestner

Abstract

In this paper, we examine the effect of changes in population density—urban sprawl—between 1970 and 2000 on BMI and obesity of residents in metropolitan areas in the US. We address the possible endogeneity of population density by using a two-step instrumental variables approach. We exploit the plausibly exogenous variation in population density caused by the expansion of the U.S. Interstate Highway System, which largely followed the original 1947 plan for the Interstate Highway System. We find a negative association between population density and obesity and estimates are robust across a wide range of specifications. Estimates indicate that if the average metropolitan area had not experienced the decline in the proportion of population living in dense areas over the last 30 years, the rate of obesity would have been reduced by approximately 13%.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15436.

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Date of creation: Oct 2009
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Publication status: published as Zhao, Zhenxiang & Kaestner, Robert, 2010. "Effects of urban sprawl on obesity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 779-787, December.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15436

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  1. Andrew J. Plantinga & Stephanie Bernell, 2007. "The Association Between Urban Sprawl And Obesity: Is It A Two-Way Street?," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(5), pages 857-879.
  2. Andrew J. Plantinga & Stephanie Bernell, 2007. "Can Urban Planning Reduce Obesity? The Role of Self-Selection in Explaining the Link between Weight and Urban Sprawl ," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 29(3), pages 557-563.
  3. Murphy, Kevin M & Topel, Robert H, 1985. "Estimation and Inference in Two-Step Econometric Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(4), pages 370-79, October.
  4. James W. Hardin & Raymond J. Carroll, 2003. "Variance estimation for the instrumental variables approach to measurement error in generalized linear models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 3(4), pages 342-350, December.
  5. Peter Mieszkowski & Edwin S. Mills, 1993. "The Causes of Metropolitan Suburbanization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 135-147, Summer.
  6. James W. Hardin, 2002. "The robust variance estimator for two-stage models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 2(3), pages 253-266, August.
  7. Stafford, Mai & Cummins, Steven & Ellaway, Anne & Sacker, Amanda & Wiggins, Richard D. & Macintyre, Sally, 2007. "Pathways to obesity: Identifying local, modifiable determinants of physical activity and diet," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(9), pages 1882-1897, November.
  8. Eid, Jean & Overman, Henry G. & Puga, Diego & Turner, Matthew A., 2008. "Fat city: Questioning the relationship between urban sprawl and obesity," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 385-404, March.
  9. Nathaniel Baum-Snow, 2007. "Did Highways Cause Suburbanization?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(2), pages 775-805, 05.
  10. Beydoun, May A. & Powell, Lisa M. & Wang, Youfa, 2008. "The association of fast food, fruit and vegetable prices with dietary intakes among US adults: Is there modification by family income?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(11), pages 2218-2229, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Carlin, Paul S. & Kidd, Michael P. & Ulubaşoğlu, Mehmet A., 2013. "Does legal heritage affect obesity? The channel of motor vehicle dependence," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 621-633.
  2. repec:zwi:journl:v:41:y:2012:i:1:p:57-71 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Georgia S. Papoutsi & Andreas C. Drichoutis & Rodolfo M. Nayga Jr., 2013. "The Causes Of Childhood Obesity: A Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(4), pages 743-767, 09.
  4. Michael Grossman & Naci H. Mocan, 2011. "Introduction to "Economic Aspects of Obesity"," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 1-16 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Henry Saffer & Dhaval Dave & Michael Grossman & Leigh Ann Leung, 2013. "Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Differences in Physical Activity," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(4), pages 378 - 410.
  6. Grafova, Irina B. & Freedman, Vicki A. & Lurie, Nicole & Kumar, Rizie & Rogowski, Jeannette, 2014. "The difference-in-difference method: Assessing the selection bias in the effects of neighborhood environment on health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 20-33.
  7. Courtemanche, Charles & Carden, Art, 2008. "Supersizing Supercenters? The Impact of Wal-Mart Supercenters on Body Mass Index and Obesity," Working Papers 09-3, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics, revised 29 Jan 2009.
  8. Courtemanche, Charles & McAlvanah, Patrick & Heutel, Garth, 2011. "Impatience, Incentives, and Obesity," Working Papers 11-9, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics, revised 28 Sep 2011.
  9. Kapinos, Kandice A. & Yakusheva, Olga & Eisenberg, Daniel, 2014. "Obesogenic environmental influences on young adults: Evidence from college dormitory assignments," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 12(C), pages 98-109.
  10. Matthew, Salois, 2010. "Obesity and Diabetes, the Built Environment, and the ‘Local’ Food Economy," MPRA Paper 27945, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Wehby, George L. & Courtemanche, Charles J., 2012. "The heterogeneity of the cigarette price effect on body mass index," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 719-729.
  12. Berning, Joshua P., 2012. "Access to Local Agriculture and Weight Outcomes," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 41(1), April.

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