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Body Image and Food Disorders: Evidence from a Sample of European Women

  • Joan Costa-i-Font
  • Mireia Jofre-Bonet

Excessive preoccupation for self-image has been pointed out as an essential factor explaining food disorders. This paper draws upon Akerlof and Kranton (2000) to model how ’self-image’ and others’ appearances influence health related behaviours. We estimate the influence of ’peers’ image’ on the likelihood of anorexia and self-image using data from a cross sectional European representative survey for 2004. We follow a two-step empirical strategy. First, we estimate the probability that a woman is extremely thin and, at the same time, she sees herself as too fat. Our findings reveal that peers’ average Body Mass Index decreases the likelihood of being anorexic. Second, we take apart the two processes and estimate a recursive probit model of being very thin and perceiving one self as being too fat. Although peers’ Body Mass Index decreases the likelihood of being very thin but increases that of seeing one self as too fat, the unobservables explaining both processes are significantly correlated.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2008/wp-cesifo-2008-09/cesifo1_wp2412.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2412.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2412
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Schelling, Thomas C, 1969. "Models of Segregation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 488-93, May.
  4. Howard Bodenhorn & Christopher S. Ruebeck, 2003. "The Economics of Identity and the Endogeneity of Race," NBER Working Papers 9962, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Manski, C.F., 1991. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: the Reflection Problem," Working papers 9127, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  6. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  7. Clark, Andrew E. & Loheac, Youenn, 2007. ""It wasn't me, it was them!" Social influence in risky behavior by adolescents," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 763-784, July.
  8. Edward E. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1995. "Crime and Social Interactions," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1738, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  9. Charles F. Manski, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 7580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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