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Effects of weight on children's educational achievement


  • Kaestner, Robert
  • Grossman, Michael


In this paper, we investigate the association between weight and children's educational achievement, as measured by scores on Peabody Individual Achievement Tests in math and reading, and grade attainment. Data for the study came from the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), which contains a large, national sample of children between the ages of 5 and 12 between 1986 and 2004. We obtained estimates of the association between weight and achievement using several regression model specifications that controlled for a variety of observed characteristics of the child and his or her mother, and time-invariant characteristics of the child. Our results suggest that, in general, children who are overweight or obese have achievement test scores that are about the same as children with average weight.

Suggested Citation

  • Kaestner, Robert & Grossman, Michael, 2009. "Effects of weight on children's educational achievement," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 651-661, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:28:y:2009:i:6:p:651-661

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert Kaestner & Hope Corman, 1995. "The Impact of Child Health and Family Inputs on Child Cognitive Develop-ment," NBER Working Papers 5257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Blau, Francine D & Grossberg, Adam J, 1992. "Maternal Labor Supply and Children's Cognitive Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 474-481, August.
    3. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2007. "The Production of Cognitive Achievement in Children: Home, School, and Racial Test Score Gaps," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 91-136.
    4. Becker, Gary S & Lewis, H Gregg, 1973. "On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages 279-288, Part II, .
    5. Joseph J. Sabia, 2007. "The Effect of Body Weight on Adolescent Academic Performance," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 871-900, April.
    6. David Rogosa & John Willett, 1985. "Understanding correlates of change by modeling individual differences in growth," Psychometrika, Springer;The Psychometric Society, vol. 50(2), pages 203-228, June.
    7. Phillip B. Levine & Diane Schanzenbach, 2009. "The Impact of Children's Public Health Insurance Expansions on Educational Outcomes," NBER Chapters,in: Frontiers in Health Policy Research, volume 12 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-255, March-Apr.
    9. Linda N. Edwards & Michael Grossman, 1979. "Adolescent Health, Family Background, and Preventive Medical Care," NBER Working Papers 0398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Korenman, Sanders & Miller, Jane E. & Sjaastad, John E., 1995. "Long-term poverty and child development in the United States: Results from the NLSY," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 127-155.
    11. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 3-33, February.
    12. Mark R. Rosenzweig & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1994. "Are There Increasing Returns to the Intergenerational Production of Human Capital? Maternal Schooling and Child Intellectual Achievement," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 670-693.
    13. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
    14. Robert A. Shakotko & Linda N. Edwards & Michael Grossman, 1980. "An Exploration of the Dynamic Relationship between Health and Cognitive Development in Adolescence," NBER Working Papers 0454, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item


    Human capital Educational economics;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General


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