The Price of Obesity

Economist for Dean Lerxst gets hold of something really interesting in a post yesterday ( which Calpundit also picks up on). He draws our attention to the fact that some US economists have recently been arguing that there has been a significant rise in individuals claiming disability benefits and this has taken a large number of workers out of the labor force, thus – at a stroke – reducing the “official unemployment rate”. The research by Mark Duggan and David Autor is discussed in a NYT op ed by University of Chicago Professor Austan Goolsbee.

Lerxst also highlights the significant role obesity may play in this. He cites an article in Friday’s Wall Street Journal describing a new study by RAND Health economists showing that obesity may actually be the “primary” explanation for the rise in the disability rolls. According to Dana P. Goldman, director of health economics at Rand and the principal investigator on the study cited in the WSJ there is “evidence to support (the idea) that obesity may be a primary reason.”
Continue reading

A Laid-Back Notion of Risk

I was listening to a programme on French radio about whether the government should intervene to prohibit investigation related to genetically modified food when I came across this piece about obesity in the US. Food and the way we eat it seem to constitute an important part of our cultural identity. Do we have a distinctive European attitude to food, or are the North European cultures more like the US, and the Southern Europeans in a class of their own?

On the other hand when I accepted the idea of Americans as ‘risk takers’, it wasn’t exactly the risk of being a cigarette-smoking, six-pack-drinking, couch potatoe that I had in mind. But then again maybe we are not so different, since most of the Parisians I get to speak to these days go on less about ‘je t’aime, moi non plus’ and more about ‘boulot, metro et bobo’.
Continue reading