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Spillovers of health education at school on parents' physical activity

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  • Lucila Berniell;
  • Dolores de la Mata;
  • M. Nieves Valdes

Abstract

To prevent modern health conditions like obesity, cancer, cardiovascular illness, and diabetes, which have reached epidemic-like proportions in recent decades, many health experts argue that students should receive Health Education (HED) at school. Although this type of education aims mainly to improve children's health pro les, 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 the elementary school on the probability of parents doing light physical activity. Introducing major changes in HED increases the probability of fathers engaging in physical activity by 12.4 percentage points, while this probability for mothers does not seem to be affected. We find evidence of two channels that may drive these spillovers. We conclude that the gender specialization of parents in childcare activities, as well as information sharing between children and parents, 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 HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York in its series Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers with number 12/13.

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Date of creation: Jul 2012
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Handle: RePEc:yor:hectdg:12/13

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Postal: HEDG/HERC, Department of Economics and Related Studies, University of York, York, YO10 5DD, United Kingdom
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Web page: http://www.york.ac.uk/economics/postgrad/herc/hedg/
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Keywords: physical activity; healthy lifestyles; indirect treatment effects; health education; triple differences.;

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  1. Jonathan Guryan & Erik Hurst & Melissa Kearney, 2008. "Parental Education and Parental Time with Children," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 23-46, Summer.
  2. Clark, Andrew E. & Etilé, Fabrice, 2005. "Don't Give Up On Me Baby: Spousal Correlation in Smoking Behaviour," IZA Discussion Papers 1692, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Jay Bhattacharya & Janet Currie & Steven Haider, 2004. "Breakfast of Champions? The School Breakfast Program and the Nutrition of Children and Families," Working Papers 189, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. John Cawley & Chad D. Meyerhoefer & David Newhouse, 2005. "The Impact of State Physical Education Requirements on Youth Physical Activity and Overweight," NBER Working Papers 11411, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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