EN       DE
  Home   Search  
IZA Newsroom
IZA World of Labor
  Site Map   Contact   Member Login


Imitative Obesity and Relative Utility
by David G. Blanchflower, Andrew J. Oswald, Bert van Landeghem
(February 2009)
published in: Journal of the European Economic Association, 2009, 7(2-3), 528 - 538

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 personís 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.
Text: See Discussion Paper No. 4010  


© IZA  Impressum  Last updated: 2014-05-24  webmaster@iza.org    |   Bookmark this page    |   Print View