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The origins of early childhood anthropometric persistence

Author

Listed:
  • Augustine Denteh

    (Georgia State University)

  • Daniel L. Millimet

    (Southern Methodist University
    IZA)

  • Rusty Tchernis

    () (Georgia State University
    IZA
    NBER)

Abstract

Abstract The rates of childhood obesity have increased dramatically in the last few decades. Non-causal evidence suggests that childhood obesity is highly persistent over the life cycle. However, little is known about the origins of this persistence. This paper examines the evolution of anthropometric measures from birth through primary school. We provide estimates of the causal effect of past anthropometric outcomes on future anthropometric outcomes (state dependence) and investigate the importance of time-varying and time-invariant factors in the dynamics of childhood anthropometric measures. We find that anthropometric measures are highly persistent from infancy through primary school. Moreover, most of this persistence is driven by time-invariant, unobserved factors that are determined prior to birth, consistent with the so-called fetal origins hypothesis. Thus, policy interventions designed to improve childhood obesity will only have meaningful, long-run effects if these time-invariant, unobserved factors are altered. Future research is needed to identify such factors, although evidence suggests that maternal nutrition may play an important role.

Suggested Citation

  • Augustine Denteh & Daniel L. Millimet & Rusty Tchernis, 2019. "The origins of early childhood anthropometric persistence," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 56(6), pages 2185-2224, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:empeco:v:56:y:2019:i:6:d:10.1007_s00181-018-1421-z
    DOI: 10.1007/s00181-018-1421-z
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Daniel L. Millimet & Rusty Tchernis, 2013. "Estimation Of Treatment Effects Without An Exclusion Restriction: With An Application To The Analysis Of The School Breakfast Program," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(6), pages 982-1017, September.
    2. Gable, Sara & Britt-Rankin, Jo & Krull, Jennifer L., 2008. "Ecological Predictors and Developmental Outcomes of Persistent Childhood Overweight," Contractor and Cooperator Reports 292017, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    3. Michelle S. Goeree & John C. Ham & Daniela Iorio, 2009. "Caught in the bulimic trap? Persistence and state dependence of bulimia among young women," IEW - Working Papers 447, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich, revised Jul 2012.
    4. David Figlio & Jonathan Guryan & Krzysztof Karbownik & Jeffrey Roth, 2014. "The Effects of Poor Neonatal Health on Children's Cognitive Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(12), pages 3921-3955, December.
    5. John C. Ham & Daniela Iorio & Michelle Sovinsky, 2013. "Caught in the Bulimic Trap?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(3), pages 736-767.
    6. Naci Mocan & Erdal Tekin, 2011. "Obesity, Self-Esteem and Wages," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 349-380, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Davis, Matthew M. & Gebremariam, Achamyeleh, 2010. "Economic Long-Term Impacts of Interventions Aimed at Preventing or Reducing Obesity Among Children," Contractor and Cooperator Reports 292082, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    8. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie, 2011. "Killing Me Softly: The Fetal Origins Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 153-172, Summer.
    9. Cawley, John & Meyerhoefer, Chad, 2012. "The medical care costs of obesity: An instrumental variables approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 219-230.
    10. Millimet, Daniel L. & Tchernis, Rusty, 2013. "Anthropometric Mobility During Childhood," IZA Discussion Papers 7453, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    Cited by:

    1. Gabriella Conti & James J. Heckman & Rodrigo Pinto, 2016. "The Effects of Two Influential Early Childhood Interventions on Health and Healthy Behaviour," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(596), pages 28-65, October.
    2. Rieger, Matthias & Wagner, Natascha, 2015. "Child health, its dynamic interaction with nutrition and health memory – Evidence from Senegal," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 16(C), pages 135-145.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Childhood obesity; Persistence; Fetal origins hypothesis;

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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