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The Relationship Between Neighborhood Quality and Obesity Among Children

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  • Bisakha Sen
  • Stephen Mennemeyer
  • Lisa C. Gary

Abstract

It has long been posited by scientists that we need to have a better understanding in the role that larger contextual factors -- like neighborhood quality and the built environment -- may have on the nation's obesity crisis. This paper explores whether maternal perceptions of neighborhood quality affect children's bodyweight outcomes, and whether racial and ethnic differences in such perceptions may explain any of the hitherto unexplained gap in bodyweight and obesity prevalence among Whites and minorities. The project uses data from the NLSY79 and the CoNLSY datasets. Results indicate that overall neighborhood quality is not significantly related to children's bodyweight. However, one particular characteristic, namely whether or not the mother believes there is enough police protection in the neighborhood, is related. Lack of police protection has robust and significant effects on the BMI-percentile of the children, though it has less robust effects on the risk of becoming obese per se. Finally, there are differences in perceptions about adequate police protection in their neighborhood between Whites and minorities which remain after controlling for other socio-economic characteristics like maternal education, family income and family structure. However, these differences play a minor role in explaining part of the gap in bodyweight between White and minority children.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14985.

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Date of creation: May 2009
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Publication status: published as Bisakha Sen, Stephen Mennemeyer, Lisa C. Gary. "The Relationship between Perceptions of Neighborhood Characteristics and Obesity among Children," in Michael Grossman and Naci H. Mocan, editors, "Economic Aspects of Obesity" University of Chicago Press (2011)
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14985

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  1. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2002. "Economic status and health in childhood: the origins of the gradient," Working Papers 262, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
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  8. Jay Bhattacharya & William B. Vogt, 2007. "Do Instrumental Variables Belong in Propensity Scores?," NBER Technical Working Papers 0343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Jens Ludwig & Jeffrey R. Kling & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2011. "Mechanism Experiments and Policy Evaluations," NBER Working Papers 17062, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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