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A Silver Lining? The Connection Between Gasoline Prices and Obesity

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Abstract

I find evidence of a negative association between gasoline prices and body weight using a fixed effects model with several robustness checks. I also show that increases in gas prices are associated with additional walking and a reduction in the frequency with which people eat at restaurants, explaining their effect on weight. My estimates imply that 8% of the rise in obesity between 1979 and 2004 can be attributed to the concurrent drop in real gas prices, and that a permanent $1 increase in gasoline prices would reduce overweight and obesity in the U.S. by 7% and 10%.

Suggested Citation

  • Courtemanche, Charles, 2008. "A Silver Lining? The Connection Between Gasoline Prices and Obesity," UNCG Economics Working Papers 09-1, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics, revised 01 Jan 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:uncgec:2009_001
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    1. 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, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 82(4), pages 1266-1310, April.
    2. Boyd-Swan, Casey & Herbst, Chris M., 2012. "Pain at the pump: Gasoline prices and subjective well-being," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 160-175.
    3. Jan Marcus & Thomas Siedler & Nicolas R. Ziebarth, 2021. "The Long-Run Effects of Sports Club Vouchers for Primary School Children," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1133, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    4. Prakash, Kushneel & Awaworyi Churchill, Sefa & Smyth, Russell, 2020. "Petrol prices and subjective wellbeing," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C).
    5. 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.
    6. Brady P. Horn & Johanna Catherine Maclean & Michael R. Strain, 2017. "Do Minimum Wage Increases Influence Worker Health?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(4), pages 1986-2007, October.
    7. 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.
    8. Dragone, Davide & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2015. "Economic Development, Novelty Consumption, and Body Weight: Evidence from the East German Transition to Capitalism," IZA Discussion Papers 8967, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Sung, Jaesang, 2017. "The Impact of Housing Prices on Health in U.S. Before, During and After the Great Recession," MPRA Paper 78831, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Aline Bütikofer & Julie Riise & Meghan M. Skira, 2021. "The Impact of Paid Maternity Leave on Maternal Health," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 67-105, February.
    11. Li, Shanjun & Liu, Yanyan & Zhang, Junjie, 2011. "Lose some, save some: Obesity, automobile demand, and gasoline consumption," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 52-66, January.
    12. Jeon, Hocheol, 2014. "Does obesity matter for the Environment? Evidence from Vehicle Choices and Driving," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170550, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    13. Charles Courtemanche & Garth Heutel & Patrick McAlvanah, 2015. "Impatience, Incentives and Obesity," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(582), pages 1-31, February.
    14. Dragone, Davide & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2017. "Non-separable time preferences, novelty consumption and body weight: Theory and evidence from the East German transition to capitalism," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 41-65.
    15. Dragone, D. & Ziebarth, N.R., 2015. "Non-Separable Time Preferences and Novelty Consumption: Theory and Evidence from the East German Transition to Capitalism," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 15/28, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    16. Patricia I. Ritter, 2018. "Soda Consumption in the Tropics: The Trade-Off between Obesity and Diarrhea in Developing Countries," Working papers 2018-16, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2020.
    17. Otto Lenhart, 2020. "Pathways Between Minimum Wages and Health: The Roles of Health Insurance, Health Care Access and Health Care Utilization," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 46(3), pages 438-459, June.
    18. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gas price; obesity; body weight; gasoline price; gasoline; transportation; restaurants;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

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

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