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Parents' education and child body weight in France: The trajectory of the gradient in the early years

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  • Bénédicte Apouey

    (PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris Sciences et Lettres - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris Sciences et Lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement)

  • Pierre-Yves Geoffard

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris Sciences et Lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris Sciences et Lettres - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between parental education and offspring body weight in France. Using two large datasets spanning the 1991-2010 period, we examine the existence of inequalities in maternal and paternal education and child reported body weight measures, as well as their evolution across childhood. Our empirical specification is flexible and allows this evolution to be non-monotonic. Significant inequalities are observed for both parents' education – maternal (respectively paternal) high education is associated with a 7.20 (resp. 7.10) percentage points decrease in the probability that the child is reported to be overweight or obese, on average for children of all ages. The gradient with respect to parents' education follows an inverted U-shape across childhood, meaning that the association between parental education and child body weight widens from birth to age 8, and narrows afterward. Specifically, maternal high education is correlated with a 5.30 percentage points decrease in the probability that the child is reported to be overweight or obese at age 2, but a 9.62 percentage points decrease at age 8, and a 1.25 percentage point decrease at age 17. The figures for paternal high education are respectively 5.87, 9.11, and 4.52. This pattern seems robust, since it is found in the two datasets, when alternative variables for parental education and reported child body weight are employed, and when controls for potential confounding factors are included. The findings for the trajectory of the income gradient corroborate those of the education gradient. The results may be explained by an equalization in actual body weight across socioeconomic groups during youth, or by changes in reporting styles of height and weight.

Suggested Citation

  • Bénédicte Apouey & Pierre-Yves Geoffard, 2015. "Parents' education and child body weight in France: The trajectory of the gradient in the early years," PSE Working Papers halshs-01223321, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-01223321
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://shs.hal.science/halshs-01223321
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    2. Diaz-Serrano, Luis & Stoyanova, Alexandrina P., 2020. "Is There a Link between BMI and Adolescents' Educational Choices and Expectations?," IZA Discussion Papers 13685, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. De Neve, Jan-Walter & Kawachi, Ichiro, 2017. "Spillovers between siblings and from offspring to parents are understudied: A review and future directions for research," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 183(C), pages 56-61.
    4. Rafał Baran & Joanna Baran & Justyna Leszczak & Agnieszka Bejer & Justyna Wyszyńska, 2022. "Sociodemographic and Socioeconomic Factors Influencing the Body Mass Composition of School-Age Children," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(18), pages 1-14, September.
    5. Ning Wei & Lülin Zhou & Wenhao Huang, 2022. "Does an upward intergenerational educational spillover effect exist? The effect of children’s education on Chinese parents’ health," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 69-89, March.
    6. Costa-Font, Joan & Jofre-Bonet, Mireia, 2020. "Is the intergenerational transmission of overweight ‘gender assortative’?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C).
    7. Ahmed Shoukry Rashad & Mesbah Fathy Sharaf, 2019. "Does maternal employment affect child nutrition status? New evidence from Egypt," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(1), pages 48-62, January.
    8. Diaz Serrano, Lluís & Stoyanova, Alexandrina Petrova, 2020. "Is there a Link between BMI and Adolescents’ Educational Choices and Expectations?," Working Papers 2072/417676, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics.
    9. Tosi, Francesca & Rettaroli, Rosella, 2022. "Intergenerational transmission of dietary habits among Italian children and adolescents," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 44(C).
    10. Bénédicte Apouey, 2019. "Inégalités socioéconomiques et conceptions subjectives du bien vieillir : Résultats d'une enquête quantitative," PSE Working Papers halshs-02093549, HAL.
    11. Hajdu, Tamás & Hajdu, Gábor, 2018. "Smoking ban and health at birth: Evidence from Hungary," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 37-47.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Children; BMI-for-age z-score; Body Weight; Overweight; Socioeconomic Status; Education;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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