Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/35694
Authors: 
Blanchflower, David G.
Oswald, Andrew J.
Van Landeghem, Bert
Year of Publication: 
2009
Series/Report no.: 
IZA discussion papers 4010
Abstract: 
If human beings care about their relative weight, a form of imitative obesity can emerge (in which people subconsciously keep up with the weight of the Joneses). Using Eurobarometer data on 29 countries, this paper provides cross-sectional evidence that overweight perceptions and dieting are influenced by a person's relative BMI, and longitudinal evidence from the German Socioeconomic Panel that well-being is influenced by relative BMI. Highly educated people see themselves as fatter - at any given actual weight - than those with low education. These results should be treated cautiously, and fixed-effects estimates are not always well-determined, but there are grounds to take seriously the possibility of socially contagious obesity.
Subjects: 
Body mass index BMI
comparisons
imitation
happiness
peer effects
dieting
mental health
well-being
obesity
JEL: 
D1
I12
I31
Persistent Identifier of the first edition: 
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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