IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/hhs/lunewp/2013_023.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Freer the Fatter? A Panel Study of the Relationship between Body-Mass Index and Economic Freedom

Author

Listed:

Abstract

Along with the economic and technological developments of the past decades, obesity has become a growing public health problem. This study empirically investigates whether the large and widespread increases in body-mass index (BMI) that have been observed around the world are related to economic freedom, as measured and defined by the Economic Freedom of the World Index. Economic freedom is part of the environment in which individuals make choices about food intake and physical activity, and may encourage unhealthy behavior and affect body weight by changing the opportunity sets. It may for example affect the quality and quantity of foods available to consumers, the access to safety nets, and the access to environments for physical activity. The empirical analysis is based on a panel of 31 high-income countries and data for the period 1983 to 2008. It finds a positive and statistically significant relationship between the level of economic freedom and both the level of, and five-year change in, BMI. Decomposing the freedom index into sub-indices measuring economic freedom in five sub-areas (government, legal structure, sound money, trade, and regulations) shows that freedom in the regulations dimension is the most consistent contributor to this result.

Suggested Citation

  • Ljungvall, Åsa, 2013. "The Freer the Fatter? A Panel Study of the Relationship between Body-Mass Index and Economic Freedom," Working Papers 2013:23, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:lunewp:2013_023
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://project.nek.lu.se/publications/workpap/papers/WP13_23.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dawson, John W., 2003. "Causality in the freedom-growth relationship," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 479-495, September.
    2. Maria L. Loureiro & Rodolfo M. Nayga, 2005. "International Dimensions of Obesity and Overweight Related Problems: An Economics Perspective," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(5), pages 1147-1153.
    3. de Haan, Jakob & Sturm, Jan-Egbert, 2000. "On the relationship between economic freedom and economic growth," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 215-241, June.
    4. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2012. "Understanding overeating and obesity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 781-796.
    5. Giovanni S. F. Bruno, 2005. "Estimation and inference in dynamic unbalanced panel-data models with a small number of individuals," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 5(4), pages 473-500, December.
    6. Berggren, Niclas, 2003. "The Benefits of Economic Freedom: A Survey," Ratio Working Papers 4, The Ratio Institute.
    7. Ljungvall, Åsa & Gerdtham, Ulf-G., 2010. "More equal but heavier: A longitudinal analysis of income-related obesity inequalities in an adult Swedish cohort," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 221-231, January.
    8. Smith Trenton G. & Stoddard Christiana & Barnes Michael G, 2009. "Why the Poor Get Fat: Weight Gain and Economic Insecurity," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(2), pages 1-31, June.
    9. Jessica Wisdom & Julie S. Downs & George Loewenstein, 2010. "Promoting Healthy Choices: Information versus Convenience," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 164-178, April.
    10. Fabrice Etilé, 2007. "Social norms, ideal body weight and food attitudes," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(9), pages 945-966.
    11. Sara Bleich & David Cutler & Christopher Murray & Alyce Adams, 2007. "Why Is The Developed World Obese?," NBER Working Papers 12954, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. 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.
    13. Stroup, Michael D., 2007. "Economic Freedom, Democracy, and the Quality of Life," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 52-66, January.
    14. Offer, Avner & Pechey, Rachel & Ulijaszek, Stanley, 2010. "Obesity under affluence varies by welfare regimes: The effect of fast food, insecurity, and inequality," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 297-308, December.
    15. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2004.043935_4 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Franco Sassi, 2010. "Obesity and the Economics of Prevention," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 14244.
    17. Ann L. Owen & Stephen Wu, 2007. "Is Trade Good for Your Health?," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(4), pages 660-682, September.
    18. Egger, Garry & Swinburn, Boyd & Amirul Islam, F.M., 2012. "Economic growth and obesity: An interesting relationship with world-wide implications," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 147-153.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Costa-Font, Joan & Mas, Núria, 2016. "‘Globesity’? The effects of globalization on obesity and caloric intake," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 121-132.
    2. Joshua C. Hall & Brad R. Humphreys & Jane E. Ruseski, 2015. "Economic Freedom and Participation in Physical Activity," Working Papers 15-17, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    body-mass index; obesity; economic freedom; economic freedom of the world index; health production; panel;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • P10 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:lunewp:2013_023. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (David Edgerton). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/delunse.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.