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Obesity: An unitended consequence of taxes and the gender wage gap?


  • Peralta-Alva Adrian

    (University of MIami)

  • Pere Gomis- Porqueras

    (University of Miami)


We perform a dynamic general equilibrium analysis of the observed increase in the weight of the average American adult over the 1960-2005 period. Existing evidence suggests that this fifteen pound increase in weight can be attributed to the dramatic raise in the consumption of foods prepared away from home, which resulted in higher caloric intake. We evaluate the impact of the observed trends in taxes and in the gender wage gap on the caloric intake, food composition and time use of American adults, by gender and marital status. Surprisingly, we find that lower taxes and gender wage gap can account for more than two thirds of the changes in calories consumed and food composition observed in the data. Our general equilibrium analysis can also account for some of the observed movements in time devoted to market and food preparation activities, and reconciles the simultaneous increase in price and consumption of foods prepared away from home.

Suggested Citation

  • Peralta-Alva Adrian & Pere Gomis- Porqueras, 2005. "Obesity: An unitended consequence of taxes and the gender wage gap?," Macroeconomics 0503014, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 05 Apr 2006.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:0503014
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 19

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Larry E. JONES & Rodolfo E. MANUELLI & Ellen R. McGRATTAN, 2015. "Why Are Married Women Working so much ?," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 75-114, March.
    2. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," Working Papers 0203, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Krusell, Per, 1997. "Long-Run Implications of Investment-Specific Technological Change," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 342-362, June.
    6. Anderson, Patricia M. & Butcher, Kristin F. & Levine, Phillip B., 2003. "Maternal employment and overweight children," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 477-504, May.
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    More about this item


    Obesity; Price per calorie; Gender wage gap; Taxes; Technological change; general equilibrium; price of food; relative price of food;

    JEL classification:

    • E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics

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