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Anorexia, Body Image and Peer Effects: Evidence from a Sample of European Women

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  • Joan Costa Font
  • Mireia Jofre-Bonet

Abstract

Excessive preoccupation with self-image (or identity) is regarded as a factor contributing to the proliferation of food disorders, especially among young women. This paper models how self-image and peer effects influence health-related behaviours, specifically food disorders. We empirically test our claims using data from the European survey. Our findings suggest that the larger the peers' body-mass, the lower the likelihood of being anorexic. Self-image is correlated with body weight. We use several definitions of peers' body mass and we find that all are negatively associated with the likelihood of women being thin or extremely thin.

Suggested Citation

  • Joan Costa Font & Mireia Jofre-Bonet, 2011. "Anorexia, Body Image and Peer Effects: Evidence from a Sample of European Women," CEP Discussion Papers dp1098, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1098
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & José A. Scheinkman, 1996. "Crime and Social Interactions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 507-548.
    2. William H. Greene, 1998. "Gender Economics Courses in Liberal Arts Colleges: Further Results," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(4), pages 291-300, January.
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    6. 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.
    7. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald & Bert Van Landeghem, 2009. "Imitative Obesity and Relative Utility," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 528-538, 04-05.
    8. Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 681-704.
    9. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    10. Cohen-Cole, Ethan & Fletcher, Jason M., 2008. "Is obesity contagious? Social networks vs. environmental factors in the obesity epidemic," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1382-1387, September.
    11. Trogdon, Justin G. & Nonnemaker, James & Pais, Joanne, 2008. "Peer effects in adolescent overweight," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1388-1399, September.
    12. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1998. "Comparison-concave utility and following behaviour in social and economic settings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 133-155, October.
    13. Andrew Grodner & Thomas J. Kniesner, 2006. "Social Interactions in Labor Supply," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(6), pages 1226-1248, December.
    14. Andrew J. Oswald & Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2007. "Review 1: Obesity, Unhappiness, and The Challenge of Affluence: Theory and Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(521), pages 441-454, June.
    15. William Greene, 1998. "Gender Economics Courses in Liberal Arts Colleges: Comment," Working Papers 98-06, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Joan Costa-Font & Frank Cowell, 2015. "Social Identity And Redistributive Preferences: A Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(2), pages 357-374, April.
    2. Rokhaya Dieye & Bernard Fortin, 2017. "Gender Peer Effects Heterogeneity in Obesity," Cahiers de recherche 1702, Centre de recherche sur les risques, les enjeux économiques, et les politiques publiques.
    3. Costa-i-Font, Joan & Gil, Joan, 2013. "Intergenerational and socioeconomic gradients of childhood obesity," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 49487, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Joan Costa-Font & Mireia Jofre-Bonet & Steven T. Yen, 2013. "Not All Incentives Wash Out the Warm Glow: The Case of Blood Donation Revisited," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(4), pages 529-551, November.
    5. Costa-Font, Joan & Hernández-Quevedo, Cristina & Jiménez-Rubio, Dolores, 2014. "Income inequalities in unhealthy life styles in England and Spain," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 66-75.
    6. Costa-Font, Joan & Gil, Joan, 2013. "Intergenerational and socioeconomic gradients of child obesity," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 29-37.
    7. repec:kap:theord:v:83:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11238-017-9625-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Ryota Nakamura & Marc Suhrcke & Daniel John Zizzo, 2017. "A triple test for behavioral economics models and public health policy," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 83(4), pages 513-533, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    self-image; identity; body image; eating disorders; anorexia; European women;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

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