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Happy House: Spousal weight and individual well-being

  • Clark, A.
  • Etilé, F.

We use life satisfaction and Body Mass Index (BMI) information from three waves of the GSOEP to test for social interactions in BMI between spouses. Semi-parametric regressions show that partner’s BMI is, beyond a certain level, negatively correlated with own satisfaction. Own BMI is positively correlated with satisfaction in thin men, and negatively correlated with satisfaction after some threshold. Critically, this latter threshold increases with partner’s BMI when the individual is overweight. The negative well-being impact of own BMI is thus lower when the individual’s partner is heavier. This is consistent with social contagion effects in weight. However, this cross-partial effect is insignificant in instrumental variable regressions, suggesting that the uninstrumented relationship reflects selection on the marriage market or omitted variables, rather than contagion.

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Paper provided by HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York in its series Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers with number 10/10.

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Date of creation: Jun 2010
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Handle: RePEc:yor:hectdg:10/10
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HEDG/HERC, Department of Economics and Related Studies, University of York, York, YO10 5DD, United Kingdom

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