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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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Paper provided by FEDEA in its series Working Papers with number 2008-30.

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Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fda:fdaddt:2008-30
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  1. Clark, Andrew E & Youenn Loheac, 2003. ""It Wasn't Me, It Was Them!" Social Influence in Risky Behaviour by Adolescents," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 44, Royal Economic Society.
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  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. Schelling, Thomas C, 1969. "Models of Segregation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 488-93, May.
  6. Charles F. Manski, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Social Interactions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 115-136, Summer.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:3:p:715-753 is not listed on IDEAS
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