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Intergenerational and Socioeconomic Gradients of Child Obesity

  • Joan Costa-Fonta
  • Joan Gil

Can the rise in obesity among children be attributed to intergenerationally parental influences? How important is a parent’s socioeconomic status in accounting for the emergence of obesity among children? This paper documents evidence of an emerging social gradient of obesity in pre-school children resulting from a combination of income and education effects, as well as less intensive childcare associated with maternal employment, when different forms of intergenerational transmission are controlled for. We also estimate and decompose income related inequalities in child obesity. We take advantage of a uniquely constructed dataset in Spain spanning the years 2003 to 2006, a period in which a significant spike in the growth of child obesity was observed. Our results suggest robust evidence of a socioeconomic and intergenerational gradient. Higher income systematically prevents obesity in children, while inequalities in child obesity have doubled in just three years with a pure income effect accounting for 72-66% of these income inequality estimates, even when intergenerational transmission is accounted for. Although, intergenerational transmission does not appear to be gender specific, when accounted for, mother’s labour market participation significantly explains obesity among boys but not among girls.

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Paper provided by FEDEA in its series Working Papers with number 2012-11.

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Date of creation: Dec 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fda:fdaddt:2012-11
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