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Spillovers of health education at school on parents' physical activity

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  • Lucila Berniell
  • Dolores de la Mata
  • Nieves Valdés

Abstract

To prevent modern diseases such as obesity, cancer, cardiovascular conditions and diabetes, which have reached epidemic-like proportions in the last decades, many health experts have called for students to receive Health Education (HED) at school. Although this type of education aims mainly to improve children's health profiles, it might affect other family members as well. This paper exploits state HED reforms as quasi-natural experiments to estimate the causal impact of HED received by children on their parents' physical activity. We use data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) for the period 1999-2005 merged with data on state HED reforms from the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) Health Policy Database, and the 2000 and 2006 School Health Policies and Programs Study (SHPPS). To identify the spillover effects of HED requirements on parents' behavior we use a "differences-in-differences-in-differences" (DDD) methodology in which we allow for different types of treatments. We find a positive effect of HED reforms at elementary school on parents' probability of doing light physical activity. The implementation of HED for the first time increases fathers' probability of engaging in physical activity in 14 percentage points, although it does not seem to affect mothers' probability of being physically active. We find evidence of two channels that may drive these spillovers. We conclude that information sharing between children and parents as well as the specialization of parents in doing typically-male or female activities with their children may play a role in generating these indirect effects and in turn in shaping healthy lifestyles within the household.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía in its series Economics Working Papers with number we1031.

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Date of creation: Nov 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cte:werepe:we1031

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Keywords: Physical activity; Healthy lifestyles; Indirect treatment effects; Health education; Triple differences;

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References

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  1. John Cawley & Chad Meyerhoefer & David Newhouse, 2007. "The impact of state physical education requirements on youth physical activity and overweight," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(12), pages 1287-1301.
  2. Andrew Clark & Fabrice Etilé, 2003. "Don't Give up on me Baby: Spousal Correlation in Smoking Behaviour," DELTA Working Papers 2003-25, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  3. Jayanta Bhattacharya & Janet Currie & Steven Haider, 2004. "Breakfast of Champions? The School Breakfast Program and the Nutrition of Children and Families," NBER Working Papers 10608, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Kerry Anne McGeary, 2009. "The Impact of State-Level Nutrition-Education Program Funding on BMI: Evidence from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," NBER Working Papers 15001, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Kenkel, Donald S, 1991. "Health Behavior, Health Knowledge, and Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 287-305, April.
  6. Burkhauser, Richard V. & Cawley, John & Schmeiser, Maximilian D., 2009. "The timing of the rise in U.S. obesity varies with measure of fatness," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 307-318, December.
  7. Jonathan Guryan & Erik Hurst & Melissa Schettini Kearney, 2008. "Parental Education and Parental Time With Children," NBER Working Papers 13993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Edward Miguel & Michael Kremer, 2004. "Worms: Identifying Impacts on Education and Health in the Presence of Treatment Externalities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 159-217, 01.
  9. Manuela Angelucci & Giacomo De Giorgi, 2009. "Indirect Effects of an Aid Program: How Do Cash Transfers Affect Ineligibles' Consumption?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 486-508, March.
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