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Maternal Employment and Childhood Obesity: A European Perspective

  • Gwozdz, Wencke


    (Copenhagen Business School)

  • Sousa-Poza, Alfonso


    (University of Hohenheim)

  • Reisch, Lucia A.


    (Copenhagen Business School)

  • Ahrens, Wolfgang


    (University of Bremen)

  • De Henauw, Stefaan


    (Ghent University)

  • Eiben, Gabriele


    (University of Gothenburg)

  • Fernández-Alvira, Juan M.

    (University of Zaragoza)

  • Hadjigeorgiou, Charalampos

    (affiliation not available)

  • Kovács, Eva


    (University of Pecs)

  • Lauria, Fabio


    (National Research Council, Italy)

  • Veidebaum, Toomas


    (affiliation not available)

  • Williams, Garrath


    (Lancaster University)

  • Bammann, Karin


    (University of Bremen)

The substantial increase in female employment rates in Europe over the past two decades has often been linked in political and public rhetoric to negative effects on child development, including obesity. We analyse this association between maternal employment and childhood obesity using rich objective reports of various anthropometric and other measures of fatness from the IDEFICS study of children aged 2-9 in 16 regions of eight European countries. Based on such data as accelerometer measures and information from nutritional diaries, we also investigate the effects of maternal employment on obesity's main drivers: calorie intake and physical activity. Our analysis provides little evidence for any association between maternal employment and childhood obesity, diet or physical activity.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7371.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2013
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Health Economics, 2013, 32 (4), 728-742
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7371
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Johnston, David W. & Lee, Wang-Sheng, 2011. "Explaining the Female Black-White Obesity Gap: A Decomposition Analysis of Proximal Causes," IZA Discussion Papers 5841, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. John Cawley & Feng Liu, 2007. "Maternal Employment and Childhood Obesity: A Search for Mechanisms in Time Use Data," NBER Working Papers 13600, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Chris M. Herbst & Erdal Tekin, 2009. "Child Care Subsidies and Childhood Obesity," NBER Working Papers 15007, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Lisa Benson & Manouchehr Mokhtari, 2011. "Parental Employment, Shared Parent–Child Activities and Childhood Obesity," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 233-244, June.
  7. Baker, Michael & Milligan, Kevin, 2008. "Maternal employment, breastfeeding, and health: Evidence from maternity leave mandates," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 871-887, July.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Emma García & José M. Labeaga & Ana Carolina Ortega Masagué, 2006. "Maternal Employment and Childhood Obesity in Spain," Working Papers 2006-17, FEDEA.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Jane Waldfogel & Wen-Jui Han & Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, 2002. "The effects of early maternal employment on child cognitive development," Demography, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 369-392, May.
  14. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2008. "Maternal employment and adolescent development," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 958-983, October.
  15. Jens Bonke & Jane Greve, 2012. "Children’s health-related life-styles: how parental child care affects them," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 557-572, December.
  16. Pierre-Carl Michaud & Arthur van Soest & Tatiana Andreyeva, 2007. "Cross-Country Variation in Obesity Patterns among Older Americans and Europeans," Working Papers 495, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  17. Phipps, Shelley A. & Lethbridge, Lynn & Burton, Peter, 2006. "Long-run consequences of parental paid work hours for child overweight status in Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 977-986, February.
  18. Yee Fei Chia, 2008. "Maternal labour supply and childhood obesity in Canada: evidence from the NLSCY," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 41(1), pages 217-242, February.
  19. Suzanne Bianchi, 2000. "Maternal employment and time with children: Dramatic change or surprising continuity?," Demography, Springer, vol. 37(4), pages 401-414, November.
  20. 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.
  21. Gennetian, Lisa A. & Hill, Heather D. & London, Andrew S. & Lopoo, Leonard M., 2010. "Maternal employment and the health of low-income young children," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 353-363, May.
  22. 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.
  23. Angela Fertig & Gerhard Glomm & Rusty Tchernis, 2006. "The Connection Between Maternal Employment and Childhood Obesity: Inspecting the Mechanisms," Caepr Working Papers 2006-020, Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington.
  24. Daniel Miller, 2011. "Maternal Work and Child Overweight and Obesity: The Importance of Timing," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 204-218, June.
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