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Caught in the bulimic trap? Persistence and state dependence of bulimia among young women

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  • Michelle S. Goeree
  • John C. Ham
  • Daniela Iorio

Abstract

Eating disorders are an important and growing health concern, and bulimia nervosa (BN) accounts for the largest fraction of eating disorders. Health consequences of BN are substantial and especially serious given the increasingly compulsive nature of the disorder. However, remarkably little is known about the mechanisms underlying the persistent nature of BN. Using a unique panel data set on young women and instrumental variable techniques, we document that unobserved heterogeneity plays a role in the persistence of BN, but strikingly up to two thirds is due to true state dependence. Our results, together with support from the medical literature, provide evidence that bulimia should be considered an addiction. Our findings have important implications for public policy since they suggest that the timing of the policy is crucial: preventive educational programs should be coupled with more intense (rehabilitation) treatment at the early stages of bingeing and purging behaviors. Our results are robust to different model specifications and identifying assumptions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 447.

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Date of creation: Sep 2009
Date of revision: Jul 2012
Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:447

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Keywords: Bulimia nervosa; demographics; state dependence; instrumental variables; dynamic panel data estimation; addiction;

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Cited by:
  1. Millimet, Daniel L. & Tchernis, Rusty, 2013. "The Origins of Early Childhood Anthropometric Persistence," IZA Discussion Papers 7657, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Michelle S. Goeree & John C. Ham & Daniela Iorio, 2012. "Race, social class, and bulimia nervosa," ECON - Working Papers 086, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  3. Daniela Iorio & Michelle Sovinsky, 2012. "How bulimia nervosa relates to addictive behavior," ECON - Working Papers 095, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. Michelle S. Goeree & John C. Ham & and Daniela Iorio, 2009. "Caught in the Bulimic Trap? Socioeconomic Status, State Dependence, and Unobserved Heterogeneity," Working Papers 386, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  5. Goeree, Michelle S. & Ham, John C. & Iorio, Daniela, 2011. "Race, Social Class, and Bulimia Nervosa," IZA Discussion Papers 5823, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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