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Caught in the bulimic trap? Persistence and state dependence of bulimia among young women


Goeree, Michelle S; Ham, John C; Iorio, Daniela (2012). Caught in the bulimic trap? Persistence and state dependence of bulimia among young women. Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics 447, University of Zurich.

Abstract

Eating disorders are an important and growing health concern, and bulimia nervosa (BN) accounts for the largest fraction of eating disorders. Health consequences of BN are substantial and especially serious given the increasingly compulsive nature of the disorder. However, remarkably little is known about the mechanisms underlying the persistent nature of BN. Using a unique panel data set on young women and instrumental variable techniques, we document that unobserved heterogeneity plays a role in the persistence of BN, but strikingly up to two thirds is due to true state dependence. Our results, together with support from the medical literature, provide evidence that bulimia should be considered an addiction. Our findings have important implications for public policy since they suggest that the timing of the policy is crucial: preventive educational programs should be coupled with more intense (rehabilitation) treatment at the early stages of bingeing and purging behaviors. Our results are robust to different model specifications and identifying assumptions.

Abstract

Eating disorders are an important and growing health concern, and bulimia nervosa (BN) accounts for the largest fraction of eating disorders. Health consequences of BN are substantial and especially serious given the increasingly compulsive nature of the disorder. However, remarkably little is known about the mechanisms underlying the persistent nature of BN. Using a unique panel data set on young women and instrumental variable techniques, we document that unobserved heterogeneity plays a role in the persistence of BN, but strikingly up to two thirds is due to true state dependence. Our results, together with support from the medical literature, provide evidence that bulimia should be considered an addiction. Our findings have important implications for public policy since they suggest that the timing of the policy is crucial: preventive educational programs should be coupled with more intense (rehabilitation) treatment at the early stages of bingeing and purging behaviors. Our results are robust to different model specifications and identifying assumptions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Institute for Empirical Research in Economics (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
JEL Classification:I12, I18
Uncontrolled Keywords:Bulimia Nervosa, Demographics, State Dependence, Instrumental Variables, Dynamic Panel Data Estimation, Addiction
Language:English
Date:July 2012
Deposited On:29 Nov 2011 20:09
Last Modified:21 Nov 2017 15:35
Series Name:Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics
Number of Pages:34
ISSN:1424-0459
Additional Information:Revised version
Official URL:http://www.iew.unizh.ch/wp/iewwp447.pdf
Related URLs:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/wp.html

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