The Impact of Minimum Wage Rates on Body Weight in the United States
AbstractGrowing consumption of increasingly less expensive food, and especially “fast food”, has been cited as a potential cause of increasing rate of obesity in the United States over the past several decades. Because the real minimum wage in the United States has declined by as much as half over 1968-2007 and because minimum wage labor is a major contributor to the cost of food away from home we hypothesized that changes in the minimum wage would be associated with changes in bodyweight over this period. To examine this, we use data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from 1984-2006 to test whether variation in the real minimum wage was associated with changes in body mass index (BMI). We also examine whether this association varied by gender, education and income, and used quantile regression to test whether the association varied over the BMI distribution. We also estimate the fraction of the increase in BMI since 1970 attributable to minimum wage declines. We find that a $1 decrease in the real minimum wage was associated with a 0.06 increase in BMI. This relationship was significant across gender and income groups and largest among the highest percentiles of the BMI distribution. Real minimum wage decreases can explain 10% of the change in BMI since 1970. We conclude that the declining real minimum wage rates has contributed to the increasing rate of overweight and obesity in the United States. Studies to clarify the mechanism by which minimum wages may affect obesity might help determine appropriate policy responses.
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 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15485.
Date of creation: Nov 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as David O. Meltzer, Zhuo Chen. "The Impact of Minimum Wage Rates on Body Weight in the United States," in Michael Grossman and Naci H. Mocan, editors, "Economic Aspects of Obesity" University of Chicago Press (2011)
Note: HC HE
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Other versions of this item:
- David O. Meltzer & Zhuo Chen, 2011. "The Impact of Minimum Wage Rates on Body Weight in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 17-34 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
- I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
- J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2009-11-14 (All new papers)
- NEP-HEA-2009-11-14 (Health Economics)
- NEP-LAB-2009-11-14 (Labour Economics)
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.:
- Daniel Aaronson & Eric French & James MacDonald, 2008. "The Minimum Wage, Restaurant Prices, and Labor Market Structure," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(3), pages 688-720.
- Chen, Zhuo & Meltzer, David, 2008. "Beefing up with the Chans: Evidence for the effects of relative income and income inequality on health from the China Health and Nutrition Survey," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(11), pages 2206-2217, June.
- Michael L. Anderson & David A. Matsa, 2011.
"Are Restaurants Really Supersizing America?,"
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics,
American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 152-88, January.
- Anderson, Michael L. & Matsa, David A., 2008. "Are restuarants really supersizing America?," CUDARE Working Paper Series 1056R4, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy, revised Jul 2010.
- Anderson, Michael L. & Matsa, David A., 2010. "Are Restaurants Really Supersizing America?," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt4vm5m5vr, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
- Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002.
"The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination,"
0203, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
- 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.
- John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
- 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.
- Janet Currie & Stefano DellaVigna & Enrico Moretti & Vikram Pathania, 2009. "The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity and Weight Gain," NBER Working Papers 14721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Daniel Aaronson, 2001. "Price Pass-Through And The Minimum Wage," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 158-169, February.
- Shin-Yi Chou & Michael Grossman & Henry Saffer, 2002.
"An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System,"
NBER Working Papers
9247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Chou, Shin-Yi & Grossman, Michael & Saffer, Henry, 2004. "An economic analysis of adult obesity: results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 565-587, May.
- James M. MacDonald & Daniel Aaronson, 2006. "How Firms Construct Price Changes: Evidence from Restaurant Responses to Increased Minimum Wages," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 88(2), pages 292-307.
- Christopher J. Flinn, 2006. "Minimum Wage Effects on Labor Market Outcomes under Search, Matching, and Endogenous Contact Rates," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(4), pages 1013-1062, 07.
- Courtemanche, Charles & McAlvanah, Patrick & Heutel, Garth, 2011.
"Impatience, Incentives, and Obesity,"
11-9, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics, revised 28 Sep 2011.
- Cotti, Chad & Tefft, Nathan, 2013. "Fast food prices, obesity, and the minimum wage," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 134-147.
- Guy E.J. Faulkner & Paul Grootendorst & Van Hai Nguyen & Tatiana Andreyeva & Kelly Arbour-Nicitopoulos & Chris Auld & Sean B. Cash & John Cawley & Peter Donnelly & Adam Drewnowski & Laurette Dubé & R, 2011. "Economic Instruments for Obesity Prevention: Results of a Scoping Review and Modified Delphi Survey," Monash Economics Working Papers 31-11, Monash University, Department of Economics.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.