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Racial differences in the influence of female adolescents’ body size on dating and sex

Author

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  • Ali, Mir M.
  • Rizzo, John A.
  • Amialchuk, Aliaksandr
  • Heiland, Frank

Abstract

This paper investigates the effect of body size on dating and sexual experiences of white (non-Hispanic) and African American (non-Hispanic) female adolescents. Using data from Add-Health, we estimate the effects of obesity and BMI z-score on the probability of having been involved in a romantic relationship, having ever been touched in the genital area in a sexual way, and having ever engaged in sexual intercourse. We find that obese white teenage girls are less likely to have been in a romantic relationship compared to their non-obese counterparts. In addition, obese white girls are less likely to ever have had sex (intercourse) or to ever have been intimate. There are no systematic differences in relationship experiences and sexual behaviors between obese and non-obese black girls. Overall, the estimated relationships are very robust to common environmental influences at the school-level and to the inclusion of proxies for low self-esteem, attitudes toward sex and interviewer assessment of appearance and personality. Instrumental variables estimates and estimates from models with lagged weight status confirm the overall patterns.

Suggested Citation

  • Ali, Mir M. & Rizzo, John A. & Amialchuk, Aliaksandr & Heiland, Frank, 2014. "Racial differences in the influence of female adolescents’ body size on dating and sex," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 12(C), pages 140-152.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:12:y:2014:i:c:p:140-152
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2013.11.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Malcolm & Ilker Kaya, 2016. "Selection works both ways: BMI and marital formation among young women," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 293-311, June.
    2. Reichert, Arndt R. & Tauchmann, Harald & Wübker, Ansgar, 2015. "Weight loss and sexual activity in adult obese individuals: Establishing a causal link," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 06/2015, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
    3. Hafner, Lucas & Tauchmann, Harald & Wübker, Ansgar, 2017. "Does moderate weight loss affect subjective health perception in obese individuals? Evidence from field experimental data," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 26/2017, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
    4. Harris, Matthew C. & Cronin, Christopher J., 2017. "The effects of prospective mate quality on investments in healthy body weight among single women," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 164-183.
    5. Hafner, Lucas & Tauchmann, Harald & Wübker, Ansgar, 2017. "Does moderate weight loss affect subjective health perception in obese individuals? Evidence from field experimental data," Ruhr Economic Papers 730, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    6. Ali, Mir M. & Amialchuk, Aliaksandr & Rizzo, John A., 2012. "The influence of body weight on social network ties among adolescents," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 20-34.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Obesity; Body image; Adolescence; Sexual behavior; National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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