Race, Social Class, and Bulimia Nervosa

36 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2011

See all articles by Michelle Sovinsky Goeree

Michelle Sovinsky Goeree

University of Southern California - Department of Economics

John C. Ham

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Department of Economics

Daniela Iorio

Autonomous University of Barcelona - Department of Economics and Economic History

Abstract

In this paper we explore a serious eating disorder, bulimia nervosa (BN), which afflicts a surprising number of girls in the US. We challenge the long-held belief that BN primarily affects high income White teenagers, using a unique data set on adolescent females evaluated regarding their tendencies towards bulimic behaviors independent of any diagnoses or treatment they have received. Our results reveal that African Americans are more likely to exhibit bulimic behavior than Whites; as are girls from low income families compared to middle and high income families. We use another data set to show that who is diagnosed with an eating disorder is in accord with popular beliefs, suggesting that African American and low-income girls are being under-diagnosed for BN. Our findings have important implications for public policy since they provide direction to policy makers regarding which adolescent females are most at risk for BN. Our results are robust to different model specifications and identifying assumptions.

Keywords: bulimia nervosa, race, income, education

JEL Classification: I1

Suggested Citation

Goeree, Michelle Sovinsky and Ham, John C. and Iorio, Daniela, Race, Social Class, and Bulimia Nervosa. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5823. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1877636

Michelle Sovinsky Goeree (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Department of Economics ( email )

3620 South Vermont Ave. Kaprielian (KAP) Hall, 300
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www-rcf.usc.edu/~goeree/

John C. Ham

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Department of Economics ( email )

1 Arts Link, AS2 #06-02
Singapore 117570, Singapore 119077
Singapore

Daniela Iorio

Autonomous University of Barcelona - Department of Economics and Economic History ( email )

Edifici B
Bellaterra, 08193
Spain

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