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Gluttony and Sloth: Signs of Trouble or Evidence of Bliss?

Bednarek, Heather L. and Jeitschko, Thomas D. and Pecchenino, Rowena A. (2006) Gluttony and Sloth: Signs of Trouble or Evidence of Bliss? Contributions to Economic Analysis & Policy, 5 (1.6). pp. 1-42. ISSN 1538-0645

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Abstract

In a model of rational agent choice in which agents value consumption and leisure as well as health, we establish that individuals, unconstrained by concerns of income or time, can and will choose levels of consumption and leisure that exceed their physiological optima. By how much they exceed the optima depends on a variety of factors, most importantly, the utility cost (benefit) of achieving health. Observed positive long-run trends in adult weight, brought on by higher levels of consumption and lower levels of physical activity, often interpreted as a public health crisis in the making, can be explained by these factors. But, rather than the trend suggesting crisis, it suggests only optimal responses to altered, and perhaps improved, circumstances. While individuals today, all else equal, may weigh more than those a generation or two ago, they also may be happier.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Preprint version of original published article. We thank John Goddeeris, Steven Haider, David Madden, Scott Drewianka, seminar participants at the University of Galway, Michigan State University, the University of East Anglia, DePaul University, and Texas Tech University and participants of the Midwest Economic Theory meetings in Pittsburgh, the Midwest Economic Association Meetings in St. Louis, the Irish Economic Association Meetings in Limerick, and the International Health Economics Association 2003 Meetings in San Francisco. Any remaining errors are ours alone.
Keywords: consumption; leisure; rational agent choice; public health; obesity; exercise;
Subjects: Social Sciences > Economics, Finance & Accounting
Item ID: 2799
Depositing User: Prof. Rowena Pecchenino
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2011 14:38
Journal or Publication Title: Contributions to Economic Analysis & Policy
Publisher: Bepress
Refereed: No
URI:

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