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'Rational Overeating' in a Feast-or-Famine World: Economic Insecurity and the Obesity Epidemic

Author

Listed:
  • Smith, Trenton G.

    () (University of Otago)

  • Stillman, Steven

    () (Free University of Bozen/Bolzano)

  • Craig, Stuart

    () (University of Pennsylvania)

Abstract

Obesity rates have risen dramatically in the US since the 1980s, but well-identified studies have struggled to explain the magnitude of the observed changes. In this paper, we estimate the causal impact of economic insecurity on obesity rates. Specifically, we construct a synthetic panel of demographic groups over the period 1988 to 2012 by combining the newly developed Economic Security Index (ESI) with data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). According to our estimates, increased economic insecurity over this time period explains 50% of the overall population-level increase in obesity.

Suggested Citation

  • Smith, Trenton G. & Stillman, Steven & Craig, Stuart, 2017. "'Rational Overeating' in a Feast-or-Famine World: Economic Insecurity and the Obesity Epidemic," IZA Discussion Papers 10954, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10954
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Staudigel, Matthias, 2016. "A soft pillow for hard times? Economic insecurity, food intake and body weight in Russia," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 198-212.
    2. Jacob S. Hacker & Gregory A. Huber & Austin Nichols & Philipp Rehm & Mark Schlesinger & Rob Valletta & Stuart Craig, 2014. "The Economic Security Index: A New Measure for Research and Policy Analysis," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(S1), pages 5-32, May.
    3. Chou, Shin-Yi & Grossman, Michael & Saffer, Henry, 2004. "An economic analysis of adult obesity: results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 565-587, May.
    4. Jon D. Wisman & Kevin W. Capehart, 2010. "Insecurity, Stress, and Epidemic Obesity," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(3), pages 936-982, July.
    5. Moscarini, Giuseppe & Thomsson, Kaj, 2006. "Occupational and Job Mobility in the US," Working Papers 19, Yale University, Department of Economics.
    6. repec:bla:revinw:v:60:y:2014:i::p:s5-s32 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. 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.
    8. Barry Watson & Lars Osberg & Shelley Phipps, 2016. "Economic Insecurity and the Weight Gain of Canadian Adults: A Natural Experiment Approach," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 42(2), pages 115-131, June.
    9. Trenton Smith, 2009. "Reconciling psychology with economics: Obesity, behavioral biology, and rational overeating," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 249-282, December.
    10. Michael W. L. Elsby & Donggyun Shin & Gary Solon, 2016. "Wage Adjustment in the Great Recession and Other Downturns: Evidence from the United States and Great Britain," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(S1), pages 249-291.
    11. Nicholas Rohde & Kam Ki Tang & D.S. Prasada Rao, 2014. "Distributional Characteristics of Income Insecurity in the U.S., Germany, and Britain," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(S1), pages 159-176, May.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    obesity; economic insecurity; economic security index;

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General

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