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Is being in school better? The impact of school on children's BMI when starting age is endogenous

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Listed:
  • Anderson, Patricia M.
  • Butcher, Kristin F.
  • Cascio, Elizabeth U.
  • Schanzenbach, Diane Whitmore

Abstract

In this paper, we investigate the impact of attending school on body weight and obesity using a regression-discontinuity design. As is the case with academic outcomes, school exposure is related to unobserved determinants of weight outcomes because some families choose to have their child start school late (or early). If one does not account for this endogeneity, it appears that an additional year of school exposure results in a greater BMI and a higher probability of being overweight or obese. When we compare the weight outcomes of similar age children with one versus two years of school exposure due to regulations on school starting age, the significant positive effects disappear, and most point estimates become negative, but insignificant. However, additional school exposure appears to improve weight outcomes of children for whom the transition to elementary school represents a more dramatic change in environment (those who spent less time in childcare prior to kindergarten).

Suggested Citation

  • Anderson, Patricia M. & Butcher, Kristin F. & Cascio, Elizabeth U. & Schanzenbach, Diane Whitmore, 2011. "Is being in school better? The impact of school on children's BMI when starting age is endogenous," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 977-986.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:30:y:2011:i:5:p:977-986
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2011.06.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David Deming & Susan Dynarski, 2008. "The Lengthening of Childhood," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 71-92, Summer.
    2. Justin McCrary & Heather Royer, 2011. "The Effect of Female Education on Fertility and Infant Health: Evidence from School Entry Policies Using Exact Date of Birth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 158-195, February.
    3. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 93-118, Summer.
    4. Elizabeth U. Cascio & Ethan G. Lewis, 2006. "Schooling and the Armed Forces Qualifying Test: Evidence from School-Entry Laws," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2).
    5. Cutler, David M. & Lleras-Muney, Adriana, 2010. "Understanding differences in health behaviors by education," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 1-28, January.
    6. Dobkin, Carlos & Ferreira, Fernando, 2010. "Do school entry laws affect educational attainment and labor market outcomes?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 40-54, February.
    7. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2005.080754_8 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher, 2006. "Reading, Writing, and Refreshments: Are School Finances Contributing to Children’s Obesity?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(3).
    9. David E. Frisvold & Julie C. Lumeng, 2011. "Expanding Exposure: Can Increasing the Daily Duration of Head Start Reduce Childhood Obesity?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(2), pages 373-402.
    10. Datar, Ashlesha, 2006. "Does delaying kindergarten entrance give children a head start?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 43-62, February.
    11. Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2009. "Do School Lunches Contribute to Childhood Obesity?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(3).
    12. William T. Gormley, Jr. & Ted Gayer, 2005. "Promoting School Readiness in Oklahoma: An Evaluation of Tulsa's Pre-K Program," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Courtemanche, Charles & Tchernis, Rusty & Zhou, Xilin, 2017. "Parental Work Hours and Childhood Obesity: Evidence Using Instrumental Variables Related to Sibling School Eligibility," IZA Discussion Papers 10739, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Zhou, Song & Awokuse, Titus O., "undated". "Urbanization, Nutrition Transition, and Obesity: Evidence from China," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170458, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. repec:eee:cysrev:v:82:y:2017:i:c:p:1-12 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Georgia S. Papoutsi & Andreas C. Drichoutis & Rodolfo M. Nayga Jr., 2013. "The Causes Of Childhood Obesity: A Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(4), pages 743-767, September.
    5. Yang, Juan & SICULAR, Terry & LAI, Desheng, 2014. "The changing determinants of high school attainment in rural China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 551-566.
    6. Jo, Young, 2014. "What money can buy: Family income and childhood obesity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 15(C), pages 1-12.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Childhood obesity; School health policies; School starting age;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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