Has Australia Become Obese for the Same Reasons as the US?

Posted: 18 Jun 2007

See all articles by Ynon Gablinger

Ynon Gablinger

Columbia University - Department of Economics

Glenn Jones

Macquarie University

Carol Propper

Imperial College London Business School; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); University of Bristol - Leverhulme Centre for Market and Public Organisation (CMPO)

Elizabeth Savage

University of Technology Sydney: Economics

Date Written: 2006

Abstract

There are currently two competing views in the US literature on the rise in obesity. Lakdawalla and Philipson, (2002) focus on changes in the technology of food production and work that have altered the relative price of buying and using calories. Cutler, Glaeser and Shapiro (2003) argue that technological change has lowered the fixed costs of calorie production resulting in increased calorie intake and rising body mass. They emphasise increased food intake, particularly snack food, and argue that the effect is more pronounced for households with a non-working spouse. In contrast to the US analyses which focus on changes over time, we use Australian cross section data from the 1995 Australian National Health Survey and the linked National Nutrition Survey to examine the relative impacts on adult body mass of three factors: exercise, energy consumption and labour force attachment of the female. Estimation is complicated by potential endogeneity problems. In the absence of good instruments we use propensity score matching to control for selection. We compare BMI outcomes between treatment observations and controls for different combinations of the three factors. We find evidence that a working spouse is associated with lower own BMI but no evidence for higher partner BMI. We find that exercise has little effect on female BMI but is associated with lower BMI for males with working partners. Persistent reporting bias in energy intake gives rise to perverse and significant effects for calorie intake. Using measured and self-reported height and weight we investigate methods to correct for reporting bias in calorie intake.

Keywords: Obesity, calorie intake, exercise, labour force participation

JEL Classification: D1, I12

Suggested Citation

Gablinger, Ynon and Jones, Glenn and Propper, Carol and Savage, Elizabeth, Has Australia Become Obese for the Same Reasons as the US? (2006). iHEA 2007 6th World Congress: Explorations in Health Economics Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=994459

Ynon Gablinger

Columbia University - Department of Economics ( email )

420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Glenn Jones (Contact Author)

Macquarie University ( email )

North Ryde
Sydney, New South Wales 2109
Australia
61 2 98508500 (Phone)
61 2 98508586 (Fax)

Carol Propper

Imperial College London Business School ( email )

South Kensington Campus
Exhibition Road
London SW7 2AZ, SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

University of Bristol - Leverhulme Centre for Market and Public Organisation (CMPO) ( email )

12 Priory Road
Bristol BS8 1TN
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/Economics/department/profiles/propper.htm

Elizabeth Savage

University of Technology Sydney: Economics ( email )

University of Technology Sydney
PO Box 123
Broadway NSW, 2007
Australia

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