New results on the effect of maternal work hours on children's overweight status: Does the quality of child care matter?
Existing empirical research on child overweight derives mainly from North America and points at rising maternal employment as an explanation for the increasing trend in child weight. These results cannot be replicated in Denmark, where an increase in maternal work hours does not increase the likelihood of weight problems for their children. This paper tests four possible explanations for this difference: (1) the effect of maternal employment on child obesity is heterogeneous and varies according to the country's weight distribution; (2) the quality of child care is on average higher in Denmark; (3) the counterfactual care provided by Danish mothers is of lower quality; and (4) Danish fathers contribute significantly to their children's health. This paper finds evidence consistent with the hypotheses that Danish child care and fathers play a significant role in explaining the absence of a significant relationship between maternal work hours and children's overweight status.
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