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Title:Imitative obesity and relative utility PDF Logo
Authors:Blanchflower, David G.
Oswald, Andrew J.
Van Landeghem, Bert
Issue Date: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:urn:nbn:de:101:1-20090304422
Document Type:Working Paper
Appears in Collections:IZA Discussion Papers, Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit (IZA)

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