Caught in the Bulimic Trap? Persistence and State Dependence of Bulimia Among Young Women

37 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

Eating disorders are an important and growing health concern, and bulimia nervosa (BN) accounts for the largest fraction of eating disorders. Health consequences of BN are substantial and especially serious given the increasingly compulsive nature of the disorder. However, remarkably little is known about the mechanisms underlying the persistent nature of BN. Using a unique panel data set on young women and instrumental variable techniques, we document that unobserved heterogeneity plays a role in the persistence of BN, but strikingly up to two thirds is due to true state dependence. Our results, together with support from the medical literature, provide evidence that bulimia should be considered an addiction. Our findings have important implications for public policy since they suggest that the timing of the policy is crucial: preventive educational programs should be coupled with more intense (rehabilitation) treatment at the early stages of bingeing and purging behaviors. Our results are robust to different model specifications and identifying assumptions.

Keywords: bulimia nervosa, demographics, state dependence, instrumental variables, dynamic panel data estimation, addiction

JEL Classification: I12, I18

Suggested Citation

Goeree, Michelle Sovinsky and Ham, John C. and Iorio, Daniela, Caught in the Bulimic Trap? Persistence and State Dependence of Bulimia Among Young Women. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5824. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1877637

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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