Impact of Income on the Bmi and Clinical Weight Classification Of Elderly Americans

Posted: 14 Jun 2007

See all articles by John Cawley

John Cawley

Cornell University - College of Human Ecology, Department of Policy Analysis & Management (PAM); Cornell University - College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Economics; The University of Sydney - School of Economics; National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) - J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics; NBER; IZA

John R. Moran

Penn State University

Kosali Ilayperuma Simon

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abstract

Elderly who are obese or underweight are at risk of higher morbidity, lower quality of life, and higher mortality. This paper tests how one important policy lever, Social Security income, affects the BMI and clinical weight classification of elderly Americans. To answer this research question, we make use of a natural experiment that led otherwise identical retirees to receive significantly different Social Security payments based on their year of birth. This natural experiment, the Social Security benefits “notch", was the result of an error in the way benefits were indexed for inflation, coupled with a subsequent modification of the benefits formula to correct the initial mistake. The specific way we exploit this natural experiment is by estimating models of instrumental variables using data from the National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS). The results of the proposed research will be useful for understanding how income transfers affect the weight (and, therefore, health) of the elderly. The results may also be useful more generally, as they may also shed light on the effect of income on BMI and clinical weight classification for the broader population. Little is known about how income causally affects weight, either for the elderly in particular or for the U.S. population in general, and this proposed research will fill this gap in the literature. The answers to this research question have implications for better understanding the causes of the recent rise in obesity and the relationship between socioeconomic status and obesity.

Keywords: obesity, income, social security, health

JEL Classification: I1

Suggested Citation

Cawley, John and Moran, John R. and Simon, Kosali Ilayperuma, Impact of Income on the Bmi and Clinical Weight Classification Of Elderly Americans. iHEA 2007 6th World Congress: Explorations in Health Economics Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=992070

John Cawley (Contact Author)

Cornell University - College of Human Ecology, Department of Policy Analysis & Management (PAM) ( email )

3M24 MVR Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Cornell University - College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Economics ( email )

414 Uris Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-7601
United States

The University of Sydney - School of Economics ( email )

Rm 370 Merewether (H04)
Sydney, NSW 2006 2008
Australia

National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) - J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics ( email )

Galway
Ireland

NBER

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

John R. Moran

Penn State University ( email )

116 Henderson Bldg.
Penn State University
University Park, PA 16802
United States

Kosali Ilayperuma Simon

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA) ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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