34 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2003
Date Written: July 2003
In a model of rational agent choice, in which agents value consumption and leisure as well as health, we establish that individuals, unconstrained by concerns of income or time, can and will choose levels of consumption and leisure that exceed their physiological optima. By how much they exceed the optima depends on a variety of factors, most importantly, the utility cost (benefit) of achieving health. Observed positive trends in adult weight, brought on by higher levels of consumption and lower levels of physical activity, often interpreted as a public health crisis in the making, can be explained by these factors. But, rather than the trend suggesting crisis, it suggests only optimal responses to altered, and perhaps improved, circumstances. While individuals today, all else equal, may weigh more than those a generation or two ago, they are also happier.
Keywords: Obesity, Overweightness, Economics of Obesity, Consumption Choices, Budget Allocation, Leisure Choices, Time Allocation, Economic Development, Technological Change
JEL Classification: I1, I12, I18, D1, D11, J2, O1, O3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Bednarek, Heather and Jeitschko, Thomas D. and Pecchenino, Rowena, Gluttony and Sloth vs. Bliss (July 2003). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=426700 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.426700
By John Cawley