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Non-Separable Time Preferences and Novelty Consumption: Theory and Evidence from the East German Transition to Capitalism

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  • Davide Dragone
  • Nicolas Ziebarth

Abstract

Non-separable intertemporal preferences and novelty consumption can explain the persistent correlation between economic development and obesity. Employing the German reunification as a fast motion natural experiment of economic development, we study how the sudden availability of novel food products impacts individual consumption patterns and body weight. Immediately after the reunification, East Germans consumed more novel western food and gained more weight than West Germans. The subsequent long-run persistence in food consumption and body weight among Eastern Germans cannot be explained by taste for variety; it provides evidence for habit formation in intertemporal consumption preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Davide Dragone & Nicolas Ziebarth, 2016. "Non-Separable Time Preferences and Novelty Consumption: Theory and Evidence from the East German Transition to Capitalism," Working Papers 160002, Canadian Centre for Health Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cch:wpaper:160002
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    Keywords

    economic development; food consumption; German reunification; habit formation; learning; novel goods; obesity;

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D92 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Intertemporal Firm Choice, Investment, Capacity, and Financing
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • L66 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Food; Beverages; Cosmetics; Tobacco
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy
    • R22 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Other Demand

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