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Economic Insecurity and the Spread of Obesity in Social Networks


  • Michael G. Barnes
  • Trenton Smith
  • Jonathan K. Yoder

    () (School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University)


A number of recent studies have provided evidence suggesting that increases in body weight may spread via social networks. The mechanism(s) by which this might occur have become the subject of much speculation, but to date little direct evidence has been available. We provide evidence for one such mechanism: economic insecurity. Using a sample of working-age men from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we show that cohabitation with working (but not non-working) adults appears to be protective against weight gain. We address the potential endogeneity of the independent variable by employing instrumental variables in our regression analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael G. Barnes & Trenton Smith & Jonathan K. Yoder, 2010. "Economic Insecurity and the Spread of Obesity in Social Networks," Working Papers 2010-2, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:wsu:wpaper:tgsmith-6

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    overweight; contagion; obesity; networks;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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