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Maternal employment and childhood overweight in Germany

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  • Meyer, Sophie-Charlotte

Abstract

A widespread finding among studies from the US and the UK is that maternal employment is correlated with an increased risk of child overweight, even in a causal manner, whereas studies from other countries obtain less conclusive results. As evidence for Germany is still scarce, the purpose of this study is to identify the effect of maternal employment on childhood overweight in Germany using two sets of representative micro data. We further explore potential underlying mechanisms that might explain this relationship. In order to address the selection into maternal full-time employment, we use an instrumental variable strategy exploiting the number of younger siblings in the household as an instrument. While the OLS models suggest that maternal full-time employment is related to a 5 percentage point higher probability of the child to be overweight, IV estimates indicate a 25 percentage points higher overweight probability due to maternal full-time employment. Exploring various possible pathways, we find that maternal full-time employment promotes unhealthy dietary and activity behavior which might explain the positive effect of maternal employment on child overweight to some extent. Although there are limitations to our IV approach, several sensitivity analyses confirm the robustness of our findings.

Suggested Citation

  • Meyer, Sophie-Charlotte, 2016. "Maternal employment and childhood overweight in Germany," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 84-102.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:23:y:2016:i:c:p:84-102
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2016.05.003
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    Cited by:

    1. Ahmed Rashad & Mesbah Sharaf, 2017. "Does Maternal Employment Affect Child Nutrition Status? New Evidence From Egypt," Working Papers 1149, Economic Research Forum, revised 11 Jan 2003.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Maternal employment; Childhood overweight; BMI; Maternal labor supply;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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