Yuhui Zheng

RAND Corporation

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

April 2011Food Prices and the Dynamics of Body Weight
with Dana Goldman, Darius Lakdawalla
in Economic Aspects of Obesity, Michael Grossman and Naci H. Mocan, editors
August 2009Understanding the Economic Consequences of Shifting Trends in Population Health
with Pierre-Carl Michaud, Dana Goldman, Darius Lakdawalla, Adam Gailey: w15231
The public economic burden of shifting trends in population health remains uncertain. Sustained increases in obesity, diabetes, and other diseases could reduce life expectancy - with a concomitant decrease in the public-sector's annuity burden - but these savings may be offset by worsening functional status, which increases health care spending, reduces labor supply, and increases public assistance. Using a microsimulation approach, we quantify the competing public-finance consequences of shifting trends in population health for medical care costs, labor supply, earnings, wealth, tax revenues, and government expenditures (including Social Security and income assistance). Together, the reduction in smoking and the rise in obesity have increased net public-sector liabilities by $430bn, or ap...

Published: Goldman, D., Michaud, P., Lakdawalla, D., Zheng, Y., Gailey, A., & Vaynman, I., The Fiscal Consequences of Trends in Population Health; National Tax Journal 63(2), 307-330; 2010.

International Differences in Longevity and Health and their Economic Consequences
with Pierre-Carl Michaud, Dana Goldman, Darius Lakdawalla, Adam Gailey: w15235
In 1975, 50 year-old Americans could expect to live slightly longer than their European counterparts. By 2005, American life expectancy at that age has diverged substantially compared to Europe. We find that this growing longevity gap is primarily the symptom of real declines in the health of near-elderly Americans, relative to their European peers. In particular, we use a microsimulation approach to project what US longevity would look like, if US health trends approximated those in Europe. We find that differences in health can explain most of the growing gap in remaining life expectancy. In addition, we quantify the public finance consequences of this deterioration in health. The model predicts that gradually moving American cohorts to the health status enjoyed by Europeans could save u...

Published: Michaud, P.-C., D. Goldman, D. Lakdawalla, A. Gailey and Y. Zheng (2011): "Differences in Health between Americans and Western Europeans: Effects on Longevity and Public Finance", Social Science and Medicine 73:2, pp. 254-263.

June 2009Food Prices and the Dynamics of Body Weight
with Dana Goldman, Darius Lakdawalla: w15096
A popular policy option for addressing the growth in weight has has been the imposition of a "fat tax" on selected foods that are deemed to promote obesity. Understanding the public economics of "fat taxes" requires an understanding of how or even whether individuals respond to changes in food prices over the long-term. We study the short- and long-run body weight consequences of changing food prices, in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). We found very modest short-term effects of price per calorie on body weight, and the magnitudes align with the previous literature. The long-term effect is much bigger, but it takes a long time for the effect to reach the full scale. Within 30 years, a 10% permanent reduction in price per calorie would lead to a BMI increase of 1.5 units (or 3.6%)...

Published: Food Prices and the Dynamics of Body Weight, Dana Goldman, Darius Lakdawalla, Yuhui Zheng. in Economic Aspects of Obesity, Grossman and Mocan. 2011

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