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'Rational Overeating' in a Feast-or-Famine World: Economic Insecurity and the Obesity Epidemic

Trenton G. Smith (), Steven Stillman () and Stuart Craig ()
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Trenton G. Smith: University of Otago
Stuart Craig: University of Pennsylvania

No 10954, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Abstract: Obesity rates have risen dramatically in the US since the 1980s, but well-identified studies have struggled to explain the magnitude of the observed changes. In this paper, we estimate the causal impact of economic insecurity on obesity rates. Specifically, we construct a synthetic panel of demographic groups over the period 1988 to 2012 by combining the newly developed Economic Security Index (ESI) with data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). According to our estimates, increased economic insecurity over this time period explains 50% of the overall population-level increase in obesity.

Keywords: obesity; economic insecurity; economic security index (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D10 I12 I18 J60 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr, nep-dem and nep-hea
Date: 2017-08
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