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The Weight of Success: The Body Mass Index and Economic Well-being in South Africa

  • Martin Wittenberg

    ()

    (DataFirst, SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town)

We show that body mass increases with economics resources among most South Africans, although not all. Among Black South Africans the relationship is non-decreasing over virtually the entire range of incomes/wealth. Furthermore in this groupd other measures of success (e.g. employment and education) are also associated with increases in body mass. This is true both in 1998 (the Demographic and Health Survey) and 2008 (National Income Dynamics Survey). This suggests the body mass can be used as a crude measure of wellbeing. Used in this way it suggests that unemployment is involuntary. This is true even if we control for household fixed effects. This is joint SALDRU/DataFirst Working Paper as part of the Mellon Data Quality Project.

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Paper provided by Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town in its series SALDRU Working Papers with number 65.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ldr:wpaper:65
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  1. Martin Wittenberg, 2009. "Estimating expenditure impacts without expenditure data using asset proxies," SALDRU Working Papers 29, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
  2. Martin Wittenberg, 2009. "Weighing the value of Asset Proxies: The case of the Body Mass Index in South Africa," SALDRU Working Papers 39, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
  3. Tomas J. Philipson & Richard A. Posner, 1999. "The Long-Run Growth in Obesity as a Function of Technological Change," Working Papers 9912, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  4. Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward & Cutler, David, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," Scholarly Articles 2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Cally Ardington & Boingotlo Gasealahwe, 2012. "Health: Analysis of the NIDS Wave 1 and 2 Datasets," SALDRU Working Papers 80, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
  6. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," Working Papers 0203, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  7. Case, Anne & Menendez, Alicia, 2009. "Sex differences in obesity rates in poor countries: Evidence from South Africa," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 271-282, December.
  8. Molini, Vasco & Nubé, Maarten & van den Boom, Bart, 2010. "Adult BMI as a Health and Nutritional Inequality Measure: Applications at Macro and Micro Levels," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 1012-1023, July.
  9. John Cawley, 2000. "Body Weight and Women's Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 7841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Popkin, Barry M., 1999. "Urbanization, Lifestyle Changes and the Nutrition Transition," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(11), pages 1905-1916, November.
  11. Filmer, Deon & Pritchett, Lant, 1998. "Estimating wealth effects without expenditure data - or tears : with an application to educational enrollments in states of India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1994, The World Bank.
  12. David E. Sahn & Stephen D. Younger, 2009. "Measuring intra‐household health inequality: explorations using the body mass index," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(S1), pages S13-S36, April.
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