|Title||Through Thick and Thin? Exploring Heterogeneous Effects of the Business Cycle on Body Weight Among Older Adults|
|Year of Publication||2021|
|University||Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam|
|Keywords||Body Mass Index, recessions, unemployment rates|
This study investigates the relationship between regional unemployment rates and body mass index (BMI) among older adults. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study for 1992-2018, I find that effects take some time to materialize, with the strongest effects being observed with a delay of around two years. BMI two years later decreases by 0.2 to 0.3 points for every one point increase in the regional unemployment rates for individuals predicted to be at risk of unemployment. There is only limited evidence of heterogeneous effects by gender, ethnicity or education. Genetic predisposition towards high BMI or educational attainment do not seem to moderate the effect of the regional unemployment rates on BMI. Estimates indicate that people on average are either unaffected or gain weight during recessions. However, people at risk of losing their jobs generally see their BMI decrease.