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Maternal employment and childhood obesity: A search for mechanisms in time use data

  • Cawley, John
  • Liu, Feng

A substantial body of research documents that maternal employment is associated with childhood obesity. This paper explores possible mechanisms for that correlation in the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). We find that maternal employment is associated with working mothers spending, per day, 4 fewer minutes grocery shopping, 17 fewer minutes cooking, 10 fewer minutes eating with children, 12 fewer minutes playing with children, 4 fewer minutes supervising children, and 37 fewer minutes caring for children. The differences tend to be greatest for mothers with young children (age 0–5 years). We explore the extent to which these findings differ by day of the week, whether a partner or spouse is present in the household, whether the mother works non-standard hours, and socioeconomic status. Only a small percentage (about 15%) of the fewer minutes spent in these activities by working mothers appears to be offset by increases in time by husbands and partners. These findings suggest plausible mechanisms for the association between maternal employment and childhood obesity.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics & Human Biology.

Volume (Year): 10 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 352-364

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:10:y:2012:i:4:p:352-364
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