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Lose some, save some: Obesity, automobile demand, and gasoline consumption


  • Li, Shanjun
  • Liu, Yanyan
  • Zhang, Junjie


This paper examines the unexplored link between the prevalence of overweight and obesity and vehicle demand in the United States. Exploring annual sales data of new passenger vehicles at the model level in 48 U.S. counties from 1999 to 2005, we find that new vehicles demanded by consumers are less fuel-efficient on average as a larger share of people become overweight or obese. The OLS results show that a 10 percentage point increase in obesity and overweight reduces the average MPG of new vehicles demanded by 1.4 percent, an effect requiring a 12 cent increase in gasoline prices to counteract. The 2SLS results after controlling for possible endogeneity in overweight and obesity prevalence put those two numbers at 5 percent and 54 cent, respectively. These findings, robust to a variety of specifications, suggest that policies to reduce overweight and obesity can have additional benefits for energy security and the environment.

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  • Li, Shanjun & Liu, Yanyan & Zhang, Junjie, 2011. "Lose some, save some: Obesity, automobile demand, and gasoline consumption," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 52-66, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:61:y:2011:i:1:p:52-66

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    17. Meyerhoefer, Chad D. & Pylypchuk, Vuriy, 2008. "AJAE Appendix: Does Participation in the Food Stamp Program Increase the Prevalence of Obesity and Health Care Spending?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics Appendices, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 90(2), May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Boyd-Swan, Casey & Herbst, Chris M., 2012. "Pain at the pump: Gasoline prices and subjective well-being," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 160-175.
    2. Haaf, C. Grace & Morrow, W. Ross & Azevedo, InĂªs M.L. & Feit, Elea McDonnell & Michalek, Jeremy J., 2016. "Forecasting light-duty vehicle demand using alternative-specific constants for endogeneity correction versus calibration," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 182-210.
    3. Jeon, Hocheol, 2014. "Does obesity matter for the Environment? Evidence from Vehicle Choices and Driving," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170550, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    4. Sun, Qi & Xu, Lin & Yin, Hua, 2016. "Energy pricing reform and energy efficiency in China: Evidence from the automobile market," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 39-51.


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