A SILVER LINING? THE CONNECTION BETWEEN GASOLINE PRICES AND OBESITY

Authors

  • CHARLES COURTEMANCHE

    1. Courtemanche: Department of Economics, Bryan School of Business and Economics, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, P.O. Box 26165, Greensboro, NC 27402. Phone 336-334-3910, Fax 314-935-4156, E-mail cjcourte@uncg.edu
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    • I am grateful to Patricia Anderson, Sebastian Galiani, Edward Greenberg, Michael Greenstone, Daifeng He, Matthew Kahn, Patrick McAlvanah, Jeremy Meiners, Charles Moul, Donald Nichols, Bruce Petersen, Michael Plotzke, Paul Rothstein, seminar participants at the Missouri Economics Conference and Missouri Valley Economics Association Annual Meeting, the editor, and two anonymous referees for valuable comments and suggestions. All errors are my own.


Abstract

I find evidence of a negative association between gasoline prices and body weight using a fixed effects model with several robustness checks. I also show that increases in gas prices are associated with additional walking and a reduction in the frequency with which people eat at restaurants, explaining their effect on weight. My estimates imply that 8% of the rise in obesity between 1979 and 2004 can be attributed to the concurrent drop in real gas prices, and that a permanent $1 increase in gasoline prices would reduce overweight and obesity in the United States by 7% and 10%. (JEL I10)

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