The Impact of Minimum Wage Rates on Body Weight in the United States
Growing consumption of increasingly less expensive food, and especially "fast food", has been cited as a potential cause of increasing rate of obesity in the United States over the past several decades. Because the real minimum wage in the United States has declined by as much as half over 1968-2007 and because minimum wage labor is a major contributor to the cost of food away from home we hypothesized that changes in the minimum wage would be associated with changes in bodyweight over this period. To examine this, we use data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from 1984-2006 to test whether variation in the real minimum wage was associated with changes in body mass index (BMI). We also examine whether this association varied by gender, education and income, and used quantile regression to test whether the association varied over the BMI distribution. We also estimate the fraction of the increase in BMI since 1970 attributable to minimum wage declines. We find that a $1 decrease in the real minimum wage was associated with a 0.06 increase in BMI. This relationship was significant across gender and income groups and largest among the highest percentiles of the BMI distribution. Real minimum wage decreases can explain 10% of the change in BMI since 1970. We conclude that the declining real minimum wage rates has contributed to the increasing rate of overweight and obesity in the United States. Studies to clarify the mechanism by which minimum wages may affect obesity might help determine appropriate policy responses.
|Date of creation:||Nov 2009|
|Publication status:||published as The Impact of Minimum Wage Rates on Body Weight in the United States , David O. Meltzer, Zhuo Chen. in Economic Aspects of Obesity , Grossman and Mocan. 2011|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Daniel Aaronson & Eric French & James MacDonald, 2008. "The Minimum Wage, Restaurant Prices, and Labor Market Structure," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(3), pages 688-720.
- Janet Currie & Stefano DellaVigna & Enrico Moretti & Vikram Pathania, 2009.
"The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity and Weight Gain,"
NBER Working Papers
14721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Janet Currie & Stefano DellaVigna & Enrico Moretti & Vikram Pathania, 2010. "The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity and Weight Gain," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 3263-3263, August.
- David Cutler & Edward Glaeser & Jesse Shapiro, 2003.
"Why Have Americans Become More Obese?,"
NBER Working Papers
9446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward & Cutler, David, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," Scholarly Articles 2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1994, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- William Wascher & David Neumark, 2000. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1362-1396, December.
- 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.
- Shin-Yi Chou & Michael Grossman & Henry Saffer, 2002. "An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," NBER Working Papers 9247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- James M. MacDonald & Daniel Aaronson, 2006. "How Firms Construct Price Changes: Evidence from Restaurant Responses to Increased Minimum Wages," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 88(2), pages 292-307.
- Michael L. Anderson & David A. Matsa, 2011.
"Are Restaurants Really Supersizing America?,"
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics,
American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 152-88, January.
- Anderson, Michael L. & Matsa, David A., 2010. "Are Restaurants Really Supersizing America?," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt4vm5m5vr, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
- Anderson, Michael L. & Matsa, David A., 2008. "Are restuarants really supersizing America?," CUDARE Working Paper Series 1056R4, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy, revised Jul 2010.
- Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002.
"The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination,"
0203, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
- Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," NBER Working Papers 8946, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Daniel Aaronson, 2001. "Price Pass-Through And The Minimum Wage," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 158-169, February.
- Nicholas E. Piggott, 2003. "The Nested PIGLOG Model: An Application to U.S. Food Demand," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(1), pages 1-15.
- Christopher J. Flinn, 2006. "Minimum Wage Effects on Labor Market Outcomes under Search, Matching, and Endogenous Contact Rates," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(4), pages 1013-1062, 07.
- Chen, Zhuo & Meltzer, David, 2008. "Beefing up with the Chans: Evidence for the effects of relative income and income inequality on health from the China Health and Nutrition Survey," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(11), pages 2206-2217, June.
- John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15485. 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: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.