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Fat City: Questioning the Relationship Between Urban Sprawl and Obesity

  • Eid, Jean
  • Overman, Henry G
  • Puga, Diego
  • Turner, Matthew A

We study the relationship between urban sprawl and obesity. Using data that tracks individuals over time, we find no evidence that urban sprawl causes obesity. We show that previous findings of a positive relationship most likely reflect a failure to properly control for the fact the individuals who are more likely to be obese choose to live in more sprawling neighbourhoods. Our results indicate that current interest in changing the built environment to counter the rise in obesity is misguided.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6191.

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Date of creation: Mar 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6191
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  1. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Phillip B. Levine, 2002. "Maternal employment and overweight children," Working Paper Series WP-02-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  2. Marcy Burchfield & Henry G. Overman & Diego Puga & Matthew A. Turner, 2005. "Causes of sprawl: A portrait from space," Working Papers tecipa-192, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  3. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn, 2003. "Sprawl and Urban Growth," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2004, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Durlauf,S.N., 2003. "Neighborhood effects," Working papers 17, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  5. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 93-118, Summer.
  6. Chou, Shin-Yi & Grossman, Michael & Saffer, Henry, 2004. "An economic analysis of adult obesity: results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 565-587, May.
  7. James J. Heckman & Sergio Urzua & Edward J. Vytlacil, 2006. "Understanding Instrumental Variables in Models with Essential Heterogeneity," NBER Working Papers 12574, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Andrew J. Plantinga & Stephanie Bernell, 2007. "The Association Between Urban Sprawl And Obesity: Is It A Two-Way Street?," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(5), pages 857-879.
  9. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
  10. 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.
  11. Thomas MaCurdy & Thomas Mroz & R. Mark Gritz, 1998. "An Evaluation of the National Longitudinal Survey on Youth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(2), pages 345-436.
  12. Patrick Bayer & Robert McMillan, 2005. "Racial Sorting and Neighborhood Quality," NBER Working Papers 11813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Patrick Bayer & Fernando Ferreira & Robert McMillan, 2007. "A Unified Framework for Measuring Preferences for Schools and Neighborhoods," Working Papers 07-27, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  14. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Duranton, Gilles & Gobillon, Laurent, 2004. "Spatial Wage Disparities: Sorting Matters!," CEPR Discussion Papers 4240, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Duncan Black & Vernon Henderson, 1997. "Urban Growth," NBER Working Papers 6008, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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.
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