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Limited Self-Control, Obesity and the Loss of Happiness

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  • Alois Stutzer
  • Armando N. Meier

Abstract

Is obesity the consequence of an optimally chosen lifestyle or do people consume too much relative to their long-term preferences? The latter perspective accepts that people might face self-control problems when exposed to the immediate gratification from food. We exploit unique survey data for Switzerland in multinomial logit and ordered probit regressions to study i) the covariates of obesity including indicators of self-control, and ii) the consequences of obesity on the subjective well-being of people with limited willpower. Our main finding is that obesity decreases the well-being of individuals who report having limited self-control, but not otherwise.

Suggested Citation

  • Alois Stutzer & Armando N. Meier, 2015. "Limited Self-Control, Obesity and the Loss of Happiness," CREMA Working Paper Series 2015-14, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  • Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2015-14
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Pugno, Maurizio, 2013. "Scitovsky and the income-happiness paradox," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 1-10.
    2. Hübler, Olaf, 2019. "The Role of Body Weight for Health, Earnings and Life Satisfaction," IZA Discussion Papers 12078, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. 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.
    4. Odermatt, Reto & Stutzer, Alois, 2015. "Smoking bans, cigarette prices and life satisfaction," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 176-194.
    5. Zeng, Qiyan & Yu, Xiaohua, 2019. "Overweight and obesity standards and subjective well-being: Evidence from China," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 144-148.
    6. Lane, Tom, 2017. "How does happiness relate to economic behaviour? A review of the literature," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 62-78.
    7. Olivier Bargain & Jinan Zeidan, 2014. "The Direct Effect of Obesity on Emotional Well-Being: Evidence from Mexico," AMSE Working Papers 1432, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, France, revised 16 Jul 2014.
    8. Huffman, Sonya & Rizov, Marian, 2016. "Life Satisfaction and Diet: Evidence from the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, Boston, Massachusetts 235148, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    9. John Ifcher & Homa Zarghamee, 2011. "Happiness and Time Preference: The Effect of Positive Affect in a Random-Assignment Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3109-3129, December.
    10. Tahereh Alavi Hojjat, 2015. "The Economic Analysis Of Obesity," Review of Business and Finance Studies, The Institute for Business and Finance Research, vol. 6(1), pages 81-98.
    11. Strulik, Holger, 2019. "I shouldn’t eat this donut: Self-control, body weight, and health in a life cycle model," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 14(C).
    12. Pagan, Ricardo & Haro, Carmen Ordóñez de & Sánchez, Carlos Rivas, 2016. "Obesity, job satisfaction and disability at older ages in Europe," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 42-54.
    13. Wang-Sheng Lee & Zhong Zhao, 2017. "Height, Weight and Well-Being for Rural, Urban and Migrant Workers in China," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 132(1), pages 117-136, May.
    14. Petri Böckerman & Edvard Johansson & Samuli Saarni & Suoma Saarni, 2014. "The Negative Association of Obesity with Subjective Well-Being: Is it All About Health?," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 857-867, August.
    15. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Dahmann, Sarah Christina & Kamhöfer, Daniel A. & Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah, 2019. "Self-control: Determinants, life outcomes and intergenerational implications," DICE Discussion Papers 319, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    16. Paul Anand & Alastair Gray, 2009. "Obesity as Market Failure: Could a ‘Deliberative Economy’ Overcome the Problems of Paternalism?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(2), pages 182-190, April.
    17. Li, Shuanglong & Chen, Yunsong & He, Guangye, 2018. "Laugh and grow fat: Happiness affects body mass index among Urban Chinese adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 208(C), pages 55-63.
    18. Olaf Hübler, 2019. "The Role of Body Weight for Health, Earnings, and Life Satisfaction," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1024, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    19. Carrieri, V.; Jones, A.M.;, 2017. "Intergenerational transmission of nicotine within families: have e-cigarettes had an impact?," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 17/03, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    20. John Tomer, 2011. "What Causes Obesity? And Why Has It Grown So Much?," Challenge, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 54(4), pages 22-49.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    obesity; revealed preference; self-control problem; subjective well-being;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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