IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

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

in new window

Date of creation: Dec 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fda:fdaddt:2012-11
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Charles L. Baum II & Christopher J. Ruhm, 2007. "Age, Socioeconomic Status and Obesity Growth," NBER Working Papers 13289, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Font, Joan Costa & Fabbri, Daniele & Gil, Joan, 2010. "Decomposing cross-country differences in levels of obesity and overweight: Does the social environment matter?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(8), pages 1185-1193, April.
  3. Anne Case & Diana Lee & Christina Paxson, 2007. "The Income Gradient In Children'S Health: A Comment On Currie, Shields And Wheatley Price," Working Papers 1005, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  4. Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy & Watanabe, Naoko, 2003. "On decomposing the causes of health sector inequalities with an application to malnutrition inequalities in Vietnam," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 207-223, January.
  5. Daniel Millimet & Rusty Tchernis & Muna Hussain, 2007. "School Nutrition Programs and the Incidence of Childhood Obesity," Caepr Working Papers 2007-014, Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington.
  6. Classen, Timothy J., 2010. "Measures of the intergenerational transmission of body mass index between mothers and their children in the United States, 1981-2004," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 30-43, March.
  7. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Phillip B. Levine, 2002. "Maternal Employment and Overweight Children," NBER Working Papers 8770, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Kakwani, Nanak & Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 1997. "Socioeconomic inequalities in health: Measurement, computation, and statistical inference," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 87-103, March.
  9. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2001. "Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient," NBER Working Papers 8344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Goode, Alison & Mavromaras, Kostas G. & Smith, Murray, 2008. "Intergenerational Transmission of Healthy Eating Behaviour and the Role of Household Income," IZA Discussion Papers 3535, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Monheit, Alan C. & Vistnes, Jessica P. & Rogowski, Jeannette A., 2009. "Overweight in adolescents: Implications for health expenditures," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 55-63, March.
  12. Rosemary Hyson & Janet Currie, 1999. "Is the Impact of Health Shocks Cushioned by Socioeconomic Status? The Case of Low Birthweight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 245-250, May.
  13. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2000. "Parental leave and child health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 931-960, November.
  14. Khanam, Rasheda & Nghiem, Hong Son & Connelly, Luke B., 2008. "Child Health and the Income Gradient: Evidence from Australia," MPRA Paper 13959, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  15. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2000. ""Beyond the Melting Pot": Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 955-988.
  16. Janet Currie & Mark Stabile, 2003. "Socioeconomic Status and Child Health: Why Is the Relationship Stronger for Older Children?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1813-1823, December.
  17. Janet Currie & Brigitte C. Madrian, 1998. "Health, Health Insurance and the Labor Market," JCPR Working Papers 27, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  18. Joan Costa-Font & Mireia Jofre-Bonet, 2013. "Anorexia, Body Image and Peer Effects: Evidence from a Sample of European Women," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 80(317), pages 44-64, 01.
  19. Stephanie Von Hinke Kessler Scholder, 2007. "Maternal Employment and Overweight Children: Does Timing Matter?," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 07/12, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  20. Joan Costa-Font & Joan Gil, . "Social interactions and the contemporaneous determinants of individuals’ weight," Working Papers 2004-19, FEDEA.
  21. Cawley, John & Liu, Feng, 2012. "Maternal employment and childhood obesity: A search for mechanisms in time use data," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 352-364.
  22. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2007. "Biology as Destiny? Short- and Long-Run Determinants of Intergenerational Transmission of Birth Weight," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 231-264.
  23. De Agostini, Paola, 2007. "Diet composition, socio-economic status and food outlets development in Britain," ISER Working Paper Series 2007-09, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  24. Classen, Timothy & Hokayem, Charles, 2005. "Childhood influences on youth obesity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 165-187, July.
  25. Ahlburg, Dennis, 1998. "Intergenerational Transmission of Health," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 265-70, May.
  26. Anne Case & Angela Fertig & Christina Paxson, 2004. "The Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance," Working Papers 246, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  27. Carol Propper & John Rigg & Simon Burgess, 2007. "Child health: evidence on the roles of family income and maternal mental health from a UK birth cohort," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(11), pages 1245-1269.
  28. Martin Dooley & Jennifer Stewart, 2007. "Family income, parenting styles and child behavioural–emotional outcomes," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(2), pages 145-162, 02.
  29. Hamermesh, Daniel S., 2010. "Incentives, time use and BMI: The roles of eating, grazing and goods," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 2-15, March.
  30. Douglas Coate, 1983. "The Relationship Between Diet, Parent"s Fatness, and Obesity in Children and Adolescents," NBER Working Papers 1072, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. Currie, Alison & Shields, Michael A. & Wheatley Price, Stephen, 2004. "Is the Child Health / Family Income Gradient Universal? Evidence from England," IZA Discussion Papers 1328, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  32. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper is not listed on IDEAS
  33. Currie, Alison & Shields, Michael A. & Price, Stephen Wheatley, 2007. "The child health/family income gradient: Evidence from England," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 213-232, March.
  34. Mark Berger & Jodi Messer, 2002. "Public financing of health expenditures, insurance, and health outcomes," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(17), pages 2105-2113.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fda:fdaddt:2012-11. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Carmen Arias)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.