The Impact of Obesity and Income on Happiness: Evidence from EU Countries
The World Happiness Report 2018 ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels, and revealed a link between happiness and obesity. Despite the importance of this link, few studies have analyzed this relationship. Moreover, it may be the case that the relationship between happiness and obesity is non-linear. The relationship between happiness and income, however, has been studied by several researchers, particularly after the publication of Easterlin (1974). In his famous paradox, Easterlin found that after reaching a certain level, the further increase of material wealth no longer promotes happiness. Here, we investigate whether there is a quadratic relationship between happiness & obesity and happiness & income, for a panel of EU countries for the period 2005-2016, using the system GMM method. The empirical results suggest an inverse U-shaped relationship between happiness & obesity and happiness & income, implying that as obesity (income), represented by body mass index, increases, happiness first increases then stabilizes and finally decreases. Hence, the existence of an inverted U-shaped relationship between happiness and income supports the validity of the Kuznets curve hypothesis. Some control variables were also included in the regressions in order to solve omitted variable bias problems. The results indicate that income inequality and unemployment have a significantly negative impact on happiness.
Keywords: Happiness, Obesity, Income, Kuznets Curve, EU countries.
JEL: D60, I31, J35.