Does More Money Make You Fat? The Effects of Quasi-Experimental Income Transfers on Adolescent and Young Adult Obesity

51 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2010

See all articles by Randall Akee

Randall Akee

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Emilia Simeonova

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School

William Copeland

Duke University

Adrian Angold

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jane Costello

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Abstract

This paper examines how exogenous income transfers during adolescence affect contemporaneous body mass index (BMI) measures and young adult obesity rates using evidence from the Great Smoky Mountains Study of Youth. The effects of extra income differ depending on the householdsï¾’ initial socio-economic status, tracing out an inverted U-shaped relationship between initial income and BMI. Youths who resided in families that had high pre-treatment annual incomes experience no change in young adult obesity rates as a result of the income transfers, while the BMI of poorer children increases. Part of this effect is due to differential increases in height, as well as weight. An exogenous annual transfer of $4,000 per adult family member results in an almost 4 cm gain in height-for-age. Adolescents coming from worse-off households experience an increase in weight only, without the corresponding change in height. The cumulative effects of the increase in household income persist for several years into young adulthood.

Keywords: obesity, health, cash transfer, adolescents, indigenous peoples

JEL Classification: I10, I12, I38

Suggested Citation

Akee, Randall and Simeonova, Emilia and Copeland, William and Angold, Adrian and Costello, Jane, Does More Money Make You Fat? The Effects of Quasi-Experimental Income Transfers on Adolescent and Young Adult Obesity. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5135, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1663175

Randall Akee (Contact Author)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Emilia Simeonova

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School ( email )

100 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

William Copeland

Duke University

Adrian Angold

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jane Costello

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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