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How Does the Business Cycle Affect Eating Habits?

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  • Dhaval M. Dave
  • Inas Rashad Kelly

Abstract

As economic expansions raise employment and wages, associated shifts in income and time constraints would be expected to also impact individuals’ health. This study utilizes information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (1990-2007) to explore the relationship between the risk of unemployment and the consumption of various healthy and unhealthy foods. Estimates, based on fixed effects methodologies, indicate that a higher risk of unemployment is associated with reduced consumption of fruits and vegetables and increased consumption of “unhealthy” foods such as snacks and fast food. In addition to estimation of the average population effect, heterogeneous responses are also identified through detailed sample stratifications and by isolating the effect for those predicted to be at highest risk of unemployment based on their socio-economic characteristics. Among individuals predicted to be at highest risk of being unemployed, a one percentage point increase in the resident state’s unemployment rate is associated with a 2-8% reduction in the consumption of fruits and vegetables. The impact is somewhat higher among married individuals and older adults. Supplementary analyses also explore specific mediating pathways, and point to reduced family income and adverse mental health as significant channels underlying the procyclical nature of healthy food consumption.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16638.

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Date of creation: Dec 2010
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Publication status: published as Dave, Dhaval M. & Kelly, Inas Rashad, 2012. "How does the business cycle affect eating habits?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 254-262.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16638

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  4. Dhaval M. Dave & Inas Rashad Kelly, 2010. "How Does the Business Cycle Affect Eating Habits?," NBER Working Papers 16638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Tinna Laufey Ásgeirsdóttir & Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Þórhildur Ólafsdóttir & Nancy E. Reichman, 2012. "Are Recessions Good for Your Health Behaviors? Impacts of the Economic Crisis in Iceland," NBER Working Papers 18233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J. & Stewart-Brown, Sarah, 2012. "Is Psychological Well-being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS), University of Warwick, Department of Economics 996, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  3. Maclean, Johanna Catherine, 2013. "The health effects of leaving school in a bad economy," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 951-964.
  4. Dave, Dhaval M. & Kelly, Inas Rashad, 2012. "How does the business cycle affect eating habits?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 254-262.
  5. Colman, Gregory & Dave, Dhaval, 2013. "Exercise, physical activity, and exertion over the business cycle," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 11-20.
  6. Sif Jónsdóttir & Tinna Ásgeirsdóttir, 2014. "The effect of job loss on body weight during an economic collapse," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 15(6), pages 567-576, July.
  7. Hoque, Mohammad Mainul & Kling, Catherine L. & Herriges, Joseph A., 2013. "Is Outdoor Recreation Recession-proof? An Empirical Investigation on Iowan’s Lake Recreation Behavior During 2009 Recession," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C., Agricultural and Applied Economics Association 150640, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  8. Ásgeirsdóttir, Tinna Laufey & Corman, Hope & Noonan, Kelly & Ólafsdóttir, Þórhildur & Reichman, Nancy E., 2014. "Was the economic crisis of 2008 good for Icelanders? Impact on health behaviors," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 1-19.

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