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Happy House: Spousal Weight and Individual Well-Being

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  • Andrew E. Clark

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor - IZA)

  • Fabrice Etilé

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, ALISS - Alimentation et sciences sociales - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique)

Abstract

We use life satisfaction and Body Mass Index (BMI) information from three waves of the GSOEP to test for social interactions in BMI between spouses. Social interactions require that the cross-partial effect of partner's weight and own weight in the utility function be positive. Using life satisfaction as a utility proxy, semi-parametric regressions show that the correlation between satisfaction and own BMI is initially positive, but turns negative after some threshold. Critically, this latter threshold increases with partner's BMI when the individual is overweight. The negative well-being impact of own BMI is thus lower when the individual's partner is heavier, which is consistent with social contagion effects in weight. However, this relationship may also reflect selection on the marriage market or omitted variables, and it is difficult to think of convincing instruments that would allow causality to be clearly established.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew E. Clark & Fabrice Etilé, 2011. "Happy House: Spousal Weight and Individual Well-Being," PSE-Ecole d'économie de Paris (Postprint) halshs-00654627, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:pseptp:halshs-00654627
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2011.07.010
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00654627
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Obesity; Subjective well-being; BMI; Social interactions;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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