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Obesity and Developmental Functioning Among Children Aged 2-4 Years

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  • John Cawley
  • C. Katharina Spieß

Abstract

In developed countries, obesity tends to be associated with worse labor market outcomes. One possible reason is that obesity leads to less human capital formation early in life. This paper investigates the association between obesity and the developmental functioning of children at younger ages (2-4 years) than ever previously examined. Data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study are used to estimate models of developmental functioning in four critical areas (verbal skills, activities of daily living, motor skills, and social skills) as a function of various measures of weight (including BMI and obesity status) controlling for various child and family characteristics. The findings indicate that, among boys, obesity is a significant risk factor for lagged development in verbal skills, social skills, and activities of daily living. Among girls, weight generally does not have a statistically significant association with these developmental outcomes. Further investigations show that the correlations exist even for those preschool children who spend no time in day care, which implies that the correlation between obesity and developmental functioning cannot be due to discrimination by teachers, classmates, or even day care providers.

Suggested Citation

  • John Cawley & C. Katharina Spieß, 2008. "Obesity and Developmental Functioning Among Children Aged 2-4 Years," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 97, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp97
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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.82068.de/diw_sp0097.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Brunello, Giorgio & D'Hombres, Beatrice, 2007. "Does body weight affect wages?: Evidence from Europe," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 1-19, March.
    2. Susan Averett & Sanders Korenman, 1996. "The Economic Reality of the Beauty Myth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(2), pages 304-330.
    3. Cawley, John H. & Grabka, Markus M. & Lillard, Dean R., 2005. "A Comparison of the Relationship between Obesity and Earnings in the U.S. and Germany," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 119-129.
    4. Burkhauser, Richard V. & Cawley, John, 2008. "Beyond BMI: The value of more accurate measures of fatness and obesity in social science research," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 519-529, March.
    5. Pfeiffer, Friedhelm & Coneus, Katja, 2007. "Self-Productivity in Early Childhood," ZEW Discussion Papers 07-053 [rev.], ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    6. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
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    Cited by:

    1. Mühler, Grit & Spieß, C. Katharina, 2009. "Informelle Förderangebote — Eine empirische Analyse ihrer Nutzung in der frühen Kindheit," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 29-46.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Obesity; human capital; children; child development; Germany; gender;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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