NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Gregory J. Colman

Contact and additional information for this authorAll papers and publicationsWorking Papers onlyWorking Papers with publication info

Working Papers and Chapters

February 2013Physical Activity and Health
with Dhaval M. Dave: w18858
While the link between physical activity and health has been studied, there are several limitations that persist in this literature relating to external and internal validity of the estimates, potential measurement error in self-reported weight and risk factors, failure to account for physical activity beyond exercise, and failure to separate the effects of exercise from other forms of physical activity. This study addresses these gaps and assesses plausibly causal effects of recreational exercise and other physical activity (including work-related activity) on the risk factors for heart disease, utilizing a population-based longitudinal dataset that contains objective information on key risk factors. We estimate fixed effects specifications that account for a host of unobservable confou...
September 2011Exercise, Physical Activity, and Exertion over the Business Cycle
with Dhaval M. Dave: w17406
As economic recessions reduce employment and wages, associated shifts in time and income constraints would be expected to also impact individuals’ health behaviors. Prior work has focused exclusively on recreational exercise, which typically represents only about 4% of total daily physical exertion. The general presumption in these studies is that, because exercise improves health, if unemployment increases exercise it must also improve health. Yet a person may be laid off from a physically demanding job, exercise more, and still be less physically active than when employed. Thus the relevant question is whether unemployment leads persons to become more physically active. We study this question with the American Time Use Survey (2003-2010), exploring the impact of the business cycle (...
May 2011Isolating the Effect of Major Depression on Obesity: Role of Selection Bias
with Dhaval M. Dave, Jennifer Tennant: w17068
There is suggestive evidence that rates of major depression have risen markedly in the U.S. concurrent with the rise in obesity. The economic burden of depression, about $100 billion annually, is under-estimated if depression has a positive causal impact on obesity. If depression plays a causal role in increasing the prevalence of obesity, then policy interventions aimed at promoting mental health may also have the indirect benefits of promoting a healthy bodyweight. However, virtually the entire existing literature on the connection between the two conditions has examined merely whether they are significantly correlated, sometimes holding constant a limited set of demographic factors. This study utilizes multiple large-scale nationally-representative datasets to assess whether, and t...
November 2004Vertical Equity Consequences of Very High Cigarette Tax Increases: If the Poor are the Ones Smoking, How Could Cigarette Tax Increases be Progressive?
with Dahlia K. Remler: w10906
Cigarette smoking is concentrated among low income groups. Consequently, cigarette taxes are considered regressive. However, if poorer individuals are much more price sensitive than richer individuals, then tax increases would reduce smoking much more among the poor and their cigarette tax expenditures as a share of income would rise by much less than for the rich. Warner (2000) said this phenomenon would make cigarette tax increases progressive. We test this empirically. Among low-, middle-, and high-income, we estimate total price elasticities of -0.37, -0.35, and -0.20, respectively. We find that cigarette tax increases are not close to progressive using both tax expenditure-based and traditional welfare measures. This finding is robust to cross-border purchasing, generic cigarettes, an...

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