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Effects of Urban Sprawl on Obesity

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  • Zhenxiang Zhao
  • Robert Kaestner

Abstract

In this paper, we examine the effect of changes in population density--urban sprawl--between 1970 and 2000 on BMI and obesity of residents in metropolitan areas in the US. We address the possible endogeneity of population density by using a two-step instrumental variables approach. We exploit the plausibly exogenous variation in population density caused by the expansion of the U.S. Interstate Highway System, which largely followed the original 1947 plan for the Interstate Highway System. We find a negative association between population density and obesity and estimates are robust across a wide range of specifications. Estimates indicate that if the average metropolitan area had not experienced the decline in the proportion of population living in dense areas over the last 30 years, the rate of obesity would have been reduced by approximately 13%.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhenxiang Zhao & Robert Kaestner, 2009. "Effects of Urban Sprawl on Obesity," NBER Working Papers 15436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15436
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Berning, Joshua P., 2012. "Access to Local Agriculture and Weight Outcomes," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 41(1), April.
    2. Kapinos, Kandice A. & Yakusheva, Olga & Eisenberg, Daniel, 2014. "Obesogenic environmental influences on young adults: Evidence from college dormitory assignments," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 12(C), pages 98-109.
    3. Grafova, Irina B. & Freedman, Vicki A. & Lurie, Nicole & Kumar, Rizie & Rogowski, Jeannette, 2014. "The difference-in-difference method: Assessing the selection bias in the effects of neighborhood environment on health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 20-33.
    4. Wehby, George L. & Courtemanche, Charles J., 2012. "The heterogeneity of the cigarette price effect on body mass index," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 719-729.
    5. Carlin, Paul S. & Kidd, Michael P. & Ulubaşoğlu, Mehmet A., 2013. "Does legal heritage affect obesity? The channel of motor vehicle dependence," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 621-633.
    6. Courtemanche, Charles & Carden, Art, 2011. "Supersizing supercenters? The impact of Walmart Supercenters on body mass index and obesity," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 165-181, March.
    7. Zhao, Zhenxiang & Kaestner, Robert & Xu, Xin, 2014. "Spatial mobility and environmental effects on obesity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 14(C), pages 128-140.
    8. 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.
    9. Perry Burnett, 2016. "Overpopulation, Optimal City Size And The Efficiency Of Urban Sprawl," Review of Urban & Regional Development Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(3), pages 143-161, November.
    10. Mouhcine Guettabi & Abdul Munasib, 2014. "Urban Sprawl, Obesogenic Environment, And Child Weight," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 378-401, June.
    11. Michael Grossman & Naci H. Mocan, 2011. "Introduction to "Economic Aspects of Obesity"," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 1-16 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Henry Saffer & Dhaval Dave & Michael Grossman & Leigh Ann Leung, 2013. "Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Differences in Physical Activity," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(4), pages 378-410.
    13. repec:eee:jhecon:v:57:y:2018:i:c:p:31-44 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Courtemanche, Charles & Tchernis, Rusty & Ukert, Benjamin, 2018. "The effect of smoking on obesity: Evidence from a randomized trial," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 31-44.
    15. Charles J. Courtemanche & Joshua C. Pinkston & Christopher J. Ruhm & George L. Wehby, 2016. "Can Changing Economic Factors Explain the Rise in Obesity?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 1266-1310, April.
    16. Matthew, Salois, 2010. "Obesity and Diabetes, the Built Environment, and the ‘Local’ Food Economy," MPRA Paper 27945, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Georgia S. Papoutsi & Andreas C. Drichoutis & Rodolfo M. Nayga Jr., 2013. "The Causes Of Childhood Obesity: A Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(4), pages 743-767, September.
    18. repec:rre:publsh:v47:y:2017:i:3:p:309-329 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Charles L. Baum & Shin-Yi Chou, 2016. "Why has the prevalence of obesity doubled?," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 251-267, June.
    20. Houshmand E. MASOUMI, 2014. "Urban Sprawl In Mid-Sized Cities Of Mena, Evidence From Yazd And Kashan In Central Iran," Management Research and Practice, Research Centre in Public Administration and Public Services, Bucharest, Romania, vol. 6(2), pages 25-41, June.
    21. Anthony M Yezer & Stephen J Popick, 2017. "Climate Preferences, Obesity, and Unobserved Heterogeneity in Cities," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 47(3), pages 309-329, Fall.
    22. Charles Courtemanche & Garth Heutel & Patrick McAlvanah, 2015. "Impatience, Incentives and Obesity," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(582), pages 1-31, February.
    23. repec:zwi:journl:v:41:y:2012:i:1:p:57-71 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

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