LDI Research Seminar Series

Michael Grossman, PhD
City University of New York Distinguished Professor, Research Associate, and Program Director of Health Economics
National Bureau of Economic Research

"An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System"

November 30, 2001, 12:00 p.m.
Colonial Penn Center Auditorium

Biosketch Abstract Paper

Michael Grossman received his Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University in 1970. He is Distinguished Professor of Economics at The City University of New York Graduate School and University Center, where he has taught since 1972. He served as Executive Officer (Chairperson) of that university's Ph.D. Program in Economics from 1983 to 1995. Grossman also is Research Associate and Program Director of Health Economics Research at the National Bureau of Economic Research, where he has had an affiliation since 1970. He is the author of three books, forty-two journal articles, and twenty-nine book chapters. His research has focused on economic models of the determinants of adult, child, and infant health in the U.S.; economic approaches to cigarette smoking and alcohol use by teenagers and young adults; empirical applications of rational addiction theories; the demand for pediatric care; the production and cost of ambulatory medical care in community health centers; and the determinants of interest rates on tax-exempt hospital bonds. He is an associate editor of the Journal of Health Economics and the Review of Economics of the Household and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. the U.S. (2001) by Black Enterprise magazine.

Since the late 1970s, the number of obese adults in the United States has grown by over 50 percent. This paper examines the factors that may be responsible for this rapidly increasing prevalence rate. To study the determinants of adult obesity and related outcomes, we employ micro-level data from the 1984-1999 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. These repeated cross sections are augmented with state level measures pertaining to the per capita number of fast- food restaurants, the per capita number of full-service restaurants, the price of a meal in each type of restaurant, the price of food consumed at home, the price of cigarettes, clean indoor air laws, and hours of work per week and hourly wage rates by age, gender, race, years of formal schooling completed, and marital status. Our main results are that these variables have the expected effects on obesity and explain a substantial amount of its trend. These findings control for individual-level measures of household income, years of formal schooling completed, and marital status.

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