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In my inbox this morning:

6.  Is Psychological Well-being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit
and Vegetables?
by David G. Blanchflower, Andrew J. Oswald, Sarah Stewart-Brown  –  #18469 (HE LS)


Humans run on a fuel called food.  Yet economists and other social scientists rarely study what people eat.  We provide simple evidence consistent with the existence of a link between the consumption of fruit and vegetables and high well-being.  In cross-sectional data, happiness and mental health rise in an approximately dose-response way with the number of daily portions of fruit and vegetables.  The pattern is remarkably robust to adjustment for a large number of other demographic, social and economic variables.  Well-being peaks at approximately 7 portions per day.  We document this relationship in three data sets, covering approximately 80,000 randomly selected British individuals, and for seven measures of well-being (life satisfaction, WEMWBS mental well-being, GHQ mental disorders,
self-reported health, happiness, nervousness, and feeling low). Reverse causality and problems of confounding remain possible.  We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of our analysis, how government policy-makers might wish to react to it, and what kinds of further research — especially randomized trials — would be valuable.

I don’t know how well they corrected for income – but suppose they want to argue that they did correct for income perfectly, what does this do to the conventional wisdom in the behavioral field that income and happiness are not very related? Finally, I think I am beginning to detest myself. Is there ever an economics paper written anymore that does not have a conclusion that includes, “the implications for government policy are …”?

One Response to “You Think What You Eat”

  1. Harry says:

    I thought every question in college economics led to a conclusion about government policy. Aren’t we to become the ones who wield the levers of power?

    Regarding how people value fringe benefits, I have been on both sides of the coin. When I got my first job as a teacher I was bored with discussion in faculty meetings when married teachers wasted my time talking about medical benefits which in those days represented what I spent on Budweiser in a year. Those were the days when Social Security taxes stopped being levied after $4200.

    I only began to appreciate the very generous benefits I had after I got married and had a family, but did not really appreciate the benefits until I paid the full cost myself, plus the “employer contribution” of the payroll taxes.

    In the productivity business, we always made sure to calculate the full cost of a person on the payroll, which was ALWAYS over 40 percent of base pay. This was back when Marxists complained about capitalists exploiting labor.

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