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Childhood obesity and human capital accumulation

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  • Palermo, Tia M.
  • Dowd, Jennifer B.

Abstract

The prevalence of childhood obesity has tripled in the United States over the last 25 years, and in addition to increased risks of many chronic diseases, obesity may also be linked to lower skill attainment, poor social competency, and poorer labor outcomes. Any causal links between obesity and human capital accumulation could have important consequences for both health and economic well-being over the life course. We investigate the association of obesity and cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes among US children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 using the Child Development Supplement of the Panel Survey of Income Dynamics. We perform OLS and individual fixed effects regressions to address unobserved time invariant heterogeneity in the relationship between overweight/obesity and abilities. Results provide limited support for the hypothesis that obesity negatively affects non-cognitive but not cognitive outcomes and suggest that discrimination rather than a biological mechanism contributes to negative outcomes found in the literature on adults.

Suggested Citation

  • Palermo, Tia M. & Dowd, Jennifer B., 2012. "Childhood obesity and human capital accumulation," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(11), pages 1989-1998.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:11:p:1989-1998
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.08.004
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    2. Rouse, Kathryn & Hunziker, Brooke, 2020. "Child bodyweight and human capital: Test scores, teacher assessments and noncognitive skills," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    3. Caro, Juan Carlos, 2020. "Parental investments, socioemotional development and nutritional health in Chile," MPRA Paper 98867, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    5. Nicole Black & David W. Johnston & Anna Peeters, 2015. "Childhood Obesity and Cognitive Achievement," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(9), pages 1082-1100, September.
    6. Lynch, Jamie L. & von Hippel, Paul T., 2016. "An education gradient in health, a health gradient in education, or a confounded gradient in both?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 18-27.
    7. Wisniewski, Suzanne L., 2017. "Childhood obesity among the poor in Peru: Are there implications for cognitive outcomes?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 51-60.

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