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Life cycle models of women's body mass index and probability of being obese: Evidence from panel data


  • Ying Huang
  • Wallace E. Huffman


The objective of this paper is to develop a multiperiod, finite‐life, life cycle models of household decisions on food, leisure, and health (body mass index [BMI] or being obese) and to estimate econometric versions of these models treating SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) participation as endogenous. A key insight from the economic models is that households allocate their wealth over the multiperiod life cycle to equalize the marginal utility of wealth in each period. The observations for this study are a balanced panel of over 1,600 women from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 Cohort (NLSY79). We focus on the 20‐year period starting in 1986, when SNAP data first became available. Women of all ages are included in the study because at the beginning of adulthood women cannot accurately predict over their life cycle labor and marriage market and health shocks that can thrust them into an economic position where they would qualify for SNAP. New findings include that a woman's household SNAP participation with or without updating for last periods health status and higher local dairy product prices reduce significantly her BMI and probability of being obese.

Suggested Citation

  • Ying Huang & Wallace E. Huffman, 2019. "Life cycle models of women's body mass index and probability of being obese: Evidence from panel data," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 50(4), pages 509-524, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:agecon:v:50:y:2019:i:4:p:509-524

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