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Bad Times, Slimmer Children?

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  • Cristina Bellés‐Obrero
  • Sergi Jiménez‐Martín
  • Judit Vall‐Castello

Abstract

Although the majority of the literature has confirmed that recessions are beneficial for adults' health and babies' outcomes at delivery, this effect should not necessarily be the same for children. In this paper, we study the effect of business cycle conditions on infant underweight, overweight, and obesity. We exploit eight waves of repeated cross‐sectional data (1987–2012) of the Spanish National Health Survey for children aged 2–15 and use the regional unemployment rate of the trimester of the interview as a proxy for the business cycle phase at the local level. We find that an increase in the unemployment rate is associated with lower obesity incidence, especially for children under 6 years old and over 12 years old. However, economic shocks also proof to have potentially negative consequences as they increase the prevalence of infant underweight for the same age groups. Moreover, we show that the possible mechanisms through which the cycle is impacting infant obesity is the nutritional composition of the children's diet, as well as, increases in the frequency of exercise. We provide some evidence that suggests that the impact of business cycle conditions on infant weight disorders have little objective health consequences in the short run. However, the potential long‐term effects may become important as underweight during childhood is associated with worse outcomes later in life. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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  • Cristina Bellés‐Obrero & Sergi Jiménez‐Martín & Judit Vall‐Castello, 2016. "Bad Times, Slimmer Children?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(S2), pages 93-112, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:25:y:2016:i:s2:p:93-112
    DOI: 10.1002/hec.3434
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    Cited by:

    1. Cristina Bellés‐Obrero & Sergi Jiménez‐Martín & Judit Vall‐Castello, 2016. "Bad Times, Slimmer Children?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(S2), pages 93-112, November.
    2. Cristina Borra & Jerònia Pons-Pons & Margarita Vilar-Rodríguez, 2020. "Austerity, healthcare provision, and health outcomes in Spain," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 21(3), pages 409-423, April.
    3. Bubonya, Melisa & Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Christensen, Daniel & Johnson, Sarah E. & Zubrick, Stephen R., 2018. "The Great Recession and Children's Mental Health in Australia," IZA Discussion Papers 11891, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Bertoli, Paola & Grembi, Veronica & Vall Castellò, Judit, 2018. "Not all silver lining? The Great Recession and road traffic accidents," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 274-288.

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