Three essays on economic influences for meal decisions

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jonathan Veness Woodward (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
David Ribar

Abstract: This dissertation focuses on two relationships: how wages and the value of time influence the decisions to spend time preparing food and eating meals, and how government food subsidies affect the types of foods that children in a household eat. Although time spent preparing food and eating regular daily meals are both known to be important to health, past research has not made it clear how increased wages may affect those decisions. In the first essay, I develop a stylized model that illustrates how higher wages may reduce meal production time but have ambiguous effects on meal consumption time. I then examine relationships using time diary information from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) supplemented with wage information from the Current Population Survey (CPS). Using standard and censored regression models, analyses indicate that for meal production time, women experience a negative effect from wages on weekdays, as predicted by theory, and no effect on weekends. However, men show no weekday effect and a surprising positive effect of wages on weekends, suggesting that men with a high value of weekday time may substitute weekend meal production time for weekday time. Higher wages are associated with more meal consumption time for both men and women on weekdays and weekends, indicating that consumption time is a normal good. The second essay combines detailed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) on eating behaviors with wages imputed using the CPS. These allow estimation of multivariate Probit and multiple Probit models for the probability that men and women will eat each of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks on weekdays and weekends. Increased wages are associated with increased probabilities of all three meals for both women and men on weekdays, with a significant effect for breakfast for men. However, on weekends, women with higher wages are less likely to eat all three meals, particularly dinner. Similarly, although higher wage men may still be more likely to eat breakfast and dinner on weekends, they are significantly less likely to eat lunch. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the School Breakfast Program (SBP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) appear to increase food consumption among households generally and among their intended beneficiaries, much less is known about whether they help other household members. The third essay {joint with David Ribar} uses 2002-2003 data from the second Child Development Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine the relationship between households' participation in the SNAP, SBP, NLSP, and WIC and individual 10 - 17 year-old children's consumption of particular food items. Analyses indicate that WIC participation by others in the household is associated with a 22 percent increase in breakfast consumption of milk and a 16 percent increase in breakfast consumption of cereal for the children in the sample, while WIC is associated with a 13 percent decrease in toast consumption. Participation in school meals is also associated with increased consumption of some foods, particularly juice, fruit, and sweet snacks. Household SNAP participation is estimated to have positive associations with some foods but negative associations with others.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Food Assistance, Meals, Time Use
Food habits $x Sex differences $z United States
Income distribution $x Health aspects $z United States
Time management $x Health aspects $z United States
Food relief $z United States

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