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

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  • Courtemanche, Charles

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Courtemanche, Charles, 2008. "Working Yourself to Death? The Relationship Between Work Hours and Obesity," MPRA Paper 25324, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:25324
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/25324/1/MPRA_paper_25324.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    3. Rodolfo Nayga, 2001. "Effect of Schooling on Obesity: Is Health Knowledge a Moderating Factor?," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2), pages 129-137.
    4. 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 201-213, April.
    5. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2008. "Maternal employment and adolescent development," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 958-983, October.
    6. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 93-118, Summer.
    7. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2007. "Labor Supply and Weight," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(1).
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Shin-Yi Chou & Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman, 2008. "Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Childhood Obesity," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(4), pages 599-618, November.
    11. 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.
    12. Angela Fertig & Gerhard Glomm & Rusty Tchernis, 2009. "The connection between maternal employment and childhood obesity: inspecting the mechanisms," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 227-255, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cawley, John & Liu, Feng, 2012. "Maternal employment and childhood obesity: A search for mechanisms in time use data," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 352-364.
    2. Herbst, Chris M. & Tekin, Erdal, 2012. "The geographic accessibility of child care subsidies and evidence on the impact of subsidy receipt on childhood obesity," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 37-52.
    3. Chris Herbst & Erdal Tekin, 2011. "Child care subsidies and childhood obesity," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 349-378, September.
    4. Angela Fertig & Gerhard Glomm & Rusty Tchernis, 2009. "The connection between maternal employment and childhood obesity: inspecting the mechanisms," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 227-255, September.
    5. Robert Sandy & Gilbert Liu & John Ottensmann & Rusty Tchernis & Jeff Wilson & O. T. Ford, 2011. "Studying the Child Obesity Epidemic with Natural Experiments," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 181-221 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Work hours; obesity; body weight; employment; labor force;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General

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