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How does the business cycle affect eating habits?

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  • Dave, Dhaval M.
  • Kelly, Inas Rashad

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 US Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (1990–2009) to explore the relationship between the state unemployment rate and the consumption of various healthy and unhealthy foods in the United States. Estimates, based on fixed effects methodologies, indicate that unemployment is associated with reduced consumption of fruits and vegetables and increased consumption of “unhealthy” foods such as snacks and fast food. 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 socioeconomic 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 3–6% reduction in the consumption of fruits and vegetables. The impact is somewhat higher among younger, low-educated, and married 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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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:eee:socmed:v:74:y:2012:i:2:p:254-262
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.10.005
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    2. David Blanchflower & Andrew Oswald & Sarah Stewart-Brown, 2013. "Is Psychological Well-Being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 114(3), pages 785-801, December.
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    6. Dave, Dhaval & Doytch, Nadia & Kelly, Inas Rashad, 2016. "Nutrient intake: A cross-national analysis of trends and economic correlates," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 158-167.
    7. Gregory Colman & Dhaval Dave, 2014. "Unemployment and Health Behaviors Over the Business Cycle: a Longitudinal View," NBER Working Papers 20748, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Hamrick, Karen & Okrent, Abigail, 2014. "Timing is Everything: The Role of Time and the Business Cycle in Fast-Food Purchasing Behavior in the United States," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170156, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    9. 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.
    10. Boen, Courtney & Yang, Y. Claire, 2016. "The physiological impacts of wealth shocks in late life: Evidence from the Great Recession," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 221-230.
    11. Monsivais, Pablo & Martin, Adam & Suhrcke, Marc & Forouhi, Nita G. & Wareham, Nicholas J., 2015. "Job-loss and weight gain in British adults: Evidence from two longitudinal studies," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 223-231.
    12. Emilio, Colombo & Valentina, Rotondi & Luca, Stanca, 2016. "Macroeconomic Conditions and Health: Inspecting the Transmission Mechanism," Working Papers 337, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 31 Dec 2016.
    13. Helmut Dietl & Carlos Gomez-Gonzalez & Cornel Nesseler, 2017. " Are women or men better team managers? Evidence from professional team sports," Working Papers 364, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    14. Leigh Ann Leung & Catherine Lau, 2017. "Effect of mortgage indebtedness on health of U.S. homeowners," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 239-264, March.
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    16. Cawley, John, 2015. "An economy of scales: A selective review of obesity's economic causes, consequences, and solutions," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 244-268.
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    20. Tinna Laufey Ásgeirsdóttir & Harpa H. Berndsen & Bryndís Þ. Guðmundsdóttir & Bryndís A. Gunnarsdóttir & Hugrún J. Halldórsdóttir, 2016. "The effect of obesity, alcohol misuse and smoking on employment and hours worked: evidence from the Icelandic economic collapse," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 313-335, June.
    21. 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.
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    24. Charters, Thomas J. & Harper, Sam & Strumpf, Erin C. & Subramanian, S.V. & Arcaya, Mariana & Nandi, Arijit, 2016. "The effect of metropolitan-area mortgage delinquency on health behaviors, access to health services, and self-rated health in the United States, 2003–2010," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 161(C), pages 74-82.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health; NutritionDiet; Unemployment; Business cycle; BRFSS; USA;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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