Economic Preferences and Obesity: Evidence from a Clinical Lab-in-Field Experiment

66 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2020

See all articles by Chiara Pastore

Chiara Pastore

University of York

Stefanie Schurer

The University of Sydney

Agnieszka Tymula

Bocconi University

Nicholas Fuller

University of Sydney

Ian Caterson

University of Sydney

Abstract

We study economic decision-making of 284 people with obesity and pre-diabetes who participated in a 6-months randomised controlled trial to control weight and prevent diabetes. To elicit preferences, we use incentive-compatible experimental tasks that participants completed during their medical screening examination. We find that, on average, participants are risk averse, show no evidence of present bias, and have impatience levels comparable to healthy samples described in the international literature. Variations in present bias and impatience are not significantly associated with variations in markers of obesity. But we find a significant negative association between risk tolerance and BMI and other markers of obesity for women. A 1 standard deviation increase in risk tolerance is associated with a 0.2 standard deviation drop in BMI and waist circumference. Impatience moderates the link between risk tolerance and obesity. We replicate the key finding of interaction effects between risk and time preferences using survey data from a nationally representative sample of 6,281 Australians with similar characteristics. Deviating markedly from the literature, we conclude that risk tolerance brings benefits for health outcomes if combined with patience in this understudied but highly policy-relevant population.

JEL Classification: C9, D9, D81, I12

Suggested Citation

Pastore, Chiara and Schurer, Stefanie and Tymula, Agnieszka and Fuller, Nicholas and Caterson, Ian, Economic Preferences and Obesity: Evidence from a Clinical Lab-in-Field Experiment. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13915, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3743139

Chiara Pastore (Contact Author)

University of York

Heslington
University of York
York, YO10 5DD
United Kingdom

Stefanie Schurer

The University of Sydney ( email )

Sydney, 2006
Australia

Agnieszka Tymula

Bocconi University ( email )

via sarfatti 25
Milan, 20136
Italy

Nicholas Fuller

University of Sydney

Ian Caterson

University of Sydney

Australia

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