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Going the same 'weigh': spousal correlations in obesity in the UK


  • Heather Brown
  • Arne Risa Hole

    () (Department of Economics, The University of Sheffield)

  • Jennifer Roberts

    () (Department of Economics, The University of Sheffield)


The obesity epidemic has received widespread media and research attention. However, the social phenomenon of obesity is still not well understood. Data from the 2004 and 2006 waves of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) show positive and significant correlations in spousal body mass index (BMI). This paper explores three mechanisms of shared individual characteristics, social influence and shared environment to explain this correlation. A number of econometric specifications are used to investigate the role of observed individual characteristics, own health, spouse health, social influence, contextual effects and unobserved individual effects on the influence of these three hypotheses on the correlation in spousal BMI. Results indicate that social influence and shared individual characteristics, which may arise through assortative matching, both contribute to correlation in spousal BMI.

Suggested Citation

  • Heather Brown & Arne Risa Hole & Jennifer Roberts, 2010. "Going the same 'weigh': spousal correlations in obesity in the UK," Working Papers 2010012, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:shf:wpaper:2010012

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Wilson, Sven E., 2012. "Marriage, gender and obesity in later life," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 431-453.

    More about this item


    marriage; BMI; obesity;

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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