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Happy house: Spousal weight and individual well-being

  • Andrew E. Clark

    (EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS : UMR8545 - École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - École des Ponts ParisTech (ENPC) - École normale supérieure [ENS] - Paris - Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA), IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor - IZA)

  • Fabrice Etilé

    (EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS : UMR8545 - École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - École des Ponts ParisTech (ENPC) - École normale supérieure [ENS] - Paris - Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA), ALISS - Alimentation et sciences sociales - Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA) : UR1303)

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. Semi-parametric regressions show that partner's BMI is, beyond a certain level, negatively correlated with own satisfaction. Own BMI is positively correlated with satisfaction in thin men, and negatively correlated with satisfaction 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. This is consistent with social contagion effects in weight. However, instrumental variable estimates suggest that the relationship is not causal, but rather reflects selection on the marriage market.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series PSE Working Papers with number halshs-00564836.

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Date of creation: Feb 2010
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Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-00564836
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  8. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
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  10. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
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  12. Brunello, Giorgio & D'Hombres, Beatrice, 2007. "Does body weight affect wages?: Evidence from Europe," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 1-19, March.
  13. Fowler, J.H. & Christakis, N.A., 2008. "Estimating peer effects on health in social networks: A response to Cohen-Cole and Fletcher; and Trogdon, Nonnemaker, and Pais," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1400-1405, September.
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  19. Fabrice Etilé, 2007. "Social norms, ideal body weight and food attitudes," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(9), pages 945-966.
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