Oct 30 2009

A cross-price elasticity example – gasoline and, eh hem… obesity

Published by at 7:31 am under Elasticity

A Silver Lining? The connections between gasoline prices and obesity – by Charles Courtemanchehttp://www.theage.com.au/ffximage/2006/03/10/wbOBESITY2_wideweb__470x352,0.jpg

Here’s the abstract from a new study about relationship between gasoline prices and obesity (I know, weird, right?)

A causal relationship between gasoline prices and obesity is possible through mechanisms of increased exercise and decreased eating in restaurants. I use a fixed effects model to explore whether this theory has empirical support, finding that an additional $1 in real gasoline prices would reduce obesity in the U.S. by 15% after five years, and that 13% of the rise in obesity between 1979 and 2004 can be attributed to falling real gas prices during this period. I also provide evidence that the effect occurs both by increasing exercise and by lowering the frequency with which people eat at restaurants.

Given these numbers, you, my students, should be able to calculate the cross-price elasticity of demand between gasoline obesity. Crunch the numbers, what do you see? Is this research plausible or did this guys simply see the relationships he wanted to see to support his thesis?

Hat tip to Professor Greg Mankiw.

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About the author:  Jason Welker teaches International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement Economics at Zurich International School in Switzerland. In addition to publishing various online resources for economics students and teachers, Jason developed the online version of the Economics course for the IB and is has authored two Economics textbooks: Pearson Baccalaureate’s Economics for the IB Diploma and REA’s AP Macroeconomics Crash Course. Jason is a native of the Pacific Northwest of the United States, and is a passionate adventurer, who considers himself a skier / mountain biker who teaches Economics in his free time. He and his wife keep a ski chalet in the mountains of Northern Idaho, which now that they live in the Swiss Alps gets far too little use. Read more posts by this author

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