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Parental Work Hours and Childhood Obesity: Evidence Using Instrumental Variables Related to Sibling School Eligibility

Listed author(s):
  • Courtemanche, Charles

    ()

    (Georgia State University)

  • Tchernis, Rusty

    ()

    (Georgia State University)

  • Zhou, Xilin

    ()

    (Georgia State University)

This study exploits plausibly exogenous variation from the youngest sibling's school eligibility to estimate the effects of parental work on the weight outcomes of older children in the household. Data come from the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth linked to the Child and Young Adult Supplement. We first show that mothers' work hours increase gradually as the age of the youngest child rises, whereas mothers' spouses' work hours exhibit a discontinuous jump at kindergarten eligibility. Leveraging these insights, we develop an instrumental variables model that shows that parents' work hours lead to larger increases in children's BMI z-scores and probabilities of being overweight and obese than those identified in previous studies. We find no evidence that the impacts of maternal and paternal work are different. Subsample analyses find that the effects are concentrated among advantaged households, as measured by an index involving education, race, and mother's marital status.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 10739.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2017
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10739
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  1. 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.
  2. Gwozdz, Wencke & Sousa-Poza, Alfonso & Reisch, Lucia A. & Ahrens, Wolfgang & Eiben, Gabriele & M. Fernandéz-Alvira, Juan & Hadjigeorgiou, Charalampos & De Henauw, Stefaan & Kovács, Eva & Lauria, Fabio, 2013. "Maternal employment and childhood obesity – A European perspective," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 728-742.
  3. Jonah B. Gelbach, 2002. "Public Schooling for Young Children and Maternal Labor Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 307-322, March.
  4. Anderson, Patricia M. & Butcher, Kristin F. & Cascio, Elizabeth U. & Schanzenbach, Diane Whitmore, 2011. "Is being in school better? The impact of school on children's BMI when starting age is endogenous," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 977-986.
  5. Courtemanche Charles, 2009. "Longer Hours and Larger Waistlines? The Relationship between Work Hours and Obesity," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(2), pages 1-33, May.
  6. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2008. "Maternal employment and adolescent development," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 958-983, October.
  7. Morrill, Melinda Sandler, 2011. "The effects of maternal employment on the health of school-age children," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 240-257, March.
  8. Courtemanche, Charles & Pinkston, Joshua C. & Stewart, Jay, 2015. "Adjusting body mass for measurement error with invalid validation data," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 275-293.
  9. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
  10. James Bishop, 2011. "The Effect of Maternal Employment on Youth Overweight in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 87(s1), pages 92-104, 09.
  11. Compton, Janice & Pollak, Robert A., 2014. "Family proximity, childcare, and women’s labor force attachment," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 72-90.
  12. Angela Fertig & Gerhard Glomm & Rusty Tchernis, 2009. "The connection between maternal employment and childhood obesity: inspecting the mechanisms," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 227-255, September.
  13. David Blau & Erdal Tekin, 2007. "The determinants and consequences of child care subsidies for single mothers in the USA," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 20(4), pages 719-741, October.
  14. Brown, Judith E. & Broom, Dorothy H. & Nicholson, Jan M. & Bittman, Michael, 2010. "Do working mothers raise couch potato kids? Maternal employment and children's lifestyle behaviours and weight in early childhood," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(11), pages 1816-1824, June.
  15. Anderson, Patricia M. & Butcher, Kristin F. & Levine, Phillip B., 2003. "Maternal employment and overweight children," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 477-504, May.
  16. Evans, William N. & Morrill, Melinda S. & Parente, Stephen T., 2010. "Measuring inappropriate medical diagnosis and treatment in survey data: The case of ADHD among school-age children," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 657-673, September.
  17. Greve, Jane, 2011. "New results on the effect of maternal work hours on children's overweight status: Does the quality of child care matter?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(5), pages 579-590, October.
  18. Cawley, John & Meyerhoefer, Chad, 2012. "The medical care costs of obesity: An instrumental variables approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 219-230.
  19. Liu, Echu & Hsiao, Cheng & Matsumoto, Tomoya & Chou, Shinyi, 2009. "Maternal full-time employment and overweight children: Parametric, semi-parametric, and non-parametric assessment," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 152(1), pages 61-69, September.
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