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Working Yourself to Death? The Relationship Between Work Hours and Obesity

  • Courtemanche, Charles

Work hours may affect obesity if reduced leisure time decreases exercise and causes substitution from meals prepared at home to fast food and pre-prepared processed food. Additional work by adults may also impact child weight by reducing parental supervision. I find that a rise in work hours increases one's weight and, to a lesser extent, the weight of one's spouse. Mothers', but not fathers', work hours affect child weight. I also find that a rise in work hours is associated with a decrease in exercise and an increase in purchasing food prepared away from home. My estimates imply that changes in labor force participation account for 6% and 10% of the growth in adult and childhood obesity in recent decades.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 25324.

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Date of creation: 10 Apr 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:25324
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  1. Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward & Cutler, David, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," Scholarly Articles 2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2005. "Maternal Employment and Adolescent Development," IZA Discussion Papers 1673, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Phillip B. Levine, 2002. "Maternal employment and overweight children," Working Paper Series WP-02-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  4. Shin-Yi Chou & Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman, 2005. "Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Childhood Obesity," NBER Working Papers 11879, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2005. "Healthy living in hard times," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 341-363, March.
  6. Angela Fertig & Gerhard Glomm & Rusty Tchernis, 2006. "The Connection Between Maternal Employment and Childhood Obesity: Inspecting the Mechanisms," Caepr Working Papers 2006-020, Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Nakosteen, Robert A & Zimmer, Michael A, 2001. "Spouse Selection and Earnings: Evidence of Marital Sorting," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(2), pages 201-13, April.
  10. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2007. "Labor Supply and Weight," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(1).
  11. Courtemanche, Charles, 2009. "Rising cigarette prices and rising obesity: Coincidence or unintended consequence?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 781-798, July.
  12. 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.
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