NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

How Does the Business Cycle Affect Eating Habits?

Dhaval M. Dave, Inas Rashad Kelly

NBER Working Paper No. 16638
Issued in December 2010
NBER Program(s):   HE

As economic expansions raise employment and wages, associated shifts in income and time constraints would be expected to also impact individuals’ health. This study utilizes information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (1990-2007) to explore the relationship between the risk of unemployment and the consumption of various healthy and unhealthy foods. Estimates, based on fixed effects methodologies, indicate that a higher risk of unemployment is associated with reduced consumption of fruits and vegetables and increased consumption of “unhealthy” foods such as snacks and fast food. In addition to estimation of the average population effect, heterogeneous responses are also identified through detailed sample stratifications and by isolating the effect for those predicted to be at highest risk of unemployment based on their socio-economic characteristics. Among individuals predicted to be at highest risk of being unemployed, a one percentage point increase in the resident state’s unemployment rate is associated with a 2-8% reduction in the consumption of fruits and vegetables. The impact is somewhat higher among married individuals and older adults. Supplementary analyses also explore specific mediating pathways, and point to reduced family income and adverse mental health as significant channels underlying the procyclical nature of healthy food consumption.

download in pdf format
   (291 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

This paper is available as PDF (291 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16638

Published: Dave, Dhaval M. & Kelly, Inas Rashad, 2012. "How does the business cycle affect eating habits?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 254-262.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Colman and Dave w17406 Exercise, Physical Activity, and Exertion over the Business Cycle
Xu and Kaestner w15737 The Business Cycle and Health Behaviors
Ruhm w9468 Healthy Living in Hard Times
Lafontaine w5247 Pricing Decisions in Franchised Chains: A Look at the Restaurant and Fast-Food Industry
Grossman w7078 The Human Capital Model of the Demand for Health
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us