Time-saving innovations and the obesity epidemic
Malison, David Jordan
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Recent research shows that the adoption of time-saving technology in food preparation has contributed to the obesity epidemic. This paper develops a model explaining why firms adopt such innovations, providing insight into the growth of obesity over time and across countries. I find that wage increases, by raising the value of time, encourage firms to implement time-saving technology. I test this hypothesis by analyzing the effect of wages on the ratio of fast-food restaurants to grocery stores in the United States. I find that an increase in a county's average wage is correlated with an increase in a county's fast-food-to-grocery-store ratio, as predicted by the theoretical model. The results suggest that wage growth has contributed to the development of the obesity epidemic.