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The impact of income on the weight of elderly Americans

  • John Cawley
  • John Moran
  • Kosali Simon

This paper estimates the impact of income on the body weight and clinical weight classification of elderly Americans using a natural experiment that led otherwise identical retirees to receive significantly different Social Security payments based on their year of birth. We estimate models of instrumental variables using data from the National Health Interview Surveys and find no significant effect of income on weight. The confidence intervals rule out even moderate effects of income on weight and on the probability of being underweight or obese, especially for men. For example, they indicate that the income elasticity of body mass index is not greater in absolute value than 0.06 for men or 0.14 for women. Copyright (C) 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/hec.1541
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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 19 (2010)
Issue (Month): 8 (August)
Pages: 979-993

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Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:19:y:2010:i:8:p:979-993
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749

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  1. Biggs, Andrew G. & Brown, Jeffrey R. & Springstead, Glenn, 2005. "Alternative Methods of Price Indexing Social Security: Implications for Benefits and System Financing," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 58(3), pages 483-504, September.
  2. Maximilian D. Schmeiser, 2009. "Expanding wallets and waistlines: the impact of family income on the BMI of women and men eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(11), pages 1277-1294.
  3. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
  4. Giorgio Brunello & Beatrice d'Hombres, 2006. "Does Body Weight affect Wages? Evidence from Europe," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0027, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
  5. John R. Moran & Kosali Ilayperuma Simon, 2005. "Income and the Use of Prescription Drugs by the Elderly: Evidence from the Notch Cohorts," NBER Working Papers 11068, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Stock, James H & Wright, Jonathan H & Yogo, Motohiro, 2002. "A Survey of Weak Instruments and Weak Identification in Generalized Method of Moments," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(4), pages 518-29, October.
  7. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson & Jay Bhattacharya, 2005. "Welfare-Enhancing Technological Change and the Growth of Obesity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 253-257, May.
  8. Schroeter, Christiane & Lusk, Jayson & Tyner, Wallace, 2008. "Determining the impact of food price and income changes on body weight," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 45-68, January.
  9. Greve, Jane, 2007. "Obesity and Labor Market Outcomes: New Danish Evidence," Working Papers 07-13, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
  10. Alan B. Krueger & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1991. "The Effect of Social Security on Labor Supply: A Cohort Analysis of the Notch Generation," NBER Working Papers 3699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," Working Papers 0203, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  12. Engelhardt, Gary V., 2008. "Social security and elderly homeownership," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 280-305, January.
  13. Burkhauser, Richard V. & Cawley, John, 2008. "Beyond BMI: The value of more accurate measures of fatness and obesity in social science research," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 519-529, March.
  14. Gary V. Engelhardt & Jonathan Gruber & Cynthia D. Perry, 2005. "Social Security and Elderly Living Arrangements: Evidence from the Social Security Notch," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(2).
  15. John R. Moran & JKosali Ilayperuma Simon, 2006. "Income and the Use of Prescription Drugs by the Elderly: Evidence from the Notch Cohorts," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2).
  16. Morris, Stephen, 2006. "Body mass index and occupational attainment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 347-364, March.
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