Does obesity matter for the Environment? Evidence from Vehicle Choices and Driving

The rising rate of obesity has become a prominent social concern in the U.S. and through-out the world. Several recent literature examines how obesity influences households driving or vehicle choice behavior. While the results in prior studies are compelling, the studies suffer from two shortcomings. First, the researches rely on aggregate data (national or county level), rather than individual level observations, potentially masking important factors determining individual choices on vehicles and driving. Second, while they are able to establish a link between obesity and vehicle choice or driving, linking vehicle choice in turn to overall emissions requires information regarding vehicle miles driven. The objective of this study is to address these two limitations using household observations from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), jointly modeling the impact of obesity on the vehicle choice and vehicle miles traveled (VMT). In particular, we investigate the impact of obesity and overweight by employing both reduced-form (linear panel model) and structural model (joint discrete/continuous choice model). Our empirical study suggests that the comprehensive impacts of obesity and overweight on gasoline consumption are little or ambiguous. In other words, the effect of the policy to reduce the rate of obesity and overweight are not as rosy as prior studies expect.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-27

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