Over-Nutrition and Changing Health Status in High Income Countries
Malnutrition and food deprivation, which are concentrated in poor countries, have been a long-term concern of economists, but as per capita income in developed countries has grown in the 20th century, a new problem of over-nutrition leading to obesity has occurred. This paper develops models of calorie demand and health supply, as reflected in aggregate mortality statistics, and tests them against data for high income countries. The models are fitted to newly developed international aggregate data for 18 high income countries over 1971-2001. Some findings are that a higher price of food, of other purchased consumer goods and of wages reduces the macro demand for calories and supply of mortality associated with obesity, but other forms of mortality are unaffected by these prices. In the aggregate, caloric intake is a normal good, contributing to energy imbalance. However, higher incomes do reduce macro level mortality risk. Higher labor force participation rates, associated with working women, increase the macro demand for calories and the supply of obesity-related mortality.
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