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Obesity and Skill Attainment in Early Childhood

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  • John Cawley
  • C. Katharina Spiess

Abstract

This paper investigates the association between obesity and skill attainment in early childhood (aged 2-4 years). Data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study are used to estimate models of developmental functioning in four critical areas (verbal skills, activities of daily living, motor skills, and social skills) as a function of various measures of weight (including body mass index and obesity) controlling for a rich set of child, parent, and family characteristics. The findings indicate that, among boys, obesity is associated with reduced verbal skills, social skills, motor skills, and activities of daily living. Among girls, obesity is associated with reduced verbal skills. Further investigations show that the correlations exist even for those preschool children who spend no time in day care, which implies that it cannot be due solely to discrimination by teachers, classmates, or day care providers.

Suggested Citation

  • John Cawley & C. Katharina Spiess, 2008. "Obesity and Skill Attainment in Early Childhood," NBER Working Papers 13997, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13997
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Brunello, Giorgio & D'Hombres, Beatrice, 2007. "Does body weight affect wages?: Evidence from Europe," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 1-19, March.
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    3. Duncan Thomas, 1994. "Like Father, like Son; Like Mother, like Daughter: Parental Resources and Child Height," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(4), pages 950-988.
    4. Heineck, Guido, 2006. "Height and weight in Germany, evidence from the German Socio-Economic Panel, 2002," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 359-382, December.
    5. John Cawley & Markus M. Grabka & Dean R. Lillard, 2005. "A Comparison of the Relationship between Obesity and Earnings in the U.S. and Germany," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 125(1), pages 119-129.
    6. Pfeiffer, Friedhelm & Coneus, Katja, 2007. "Self-Productivity in Early Childhood," ZEW Discussion Papers 07-053 [rev.], ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    7. Heckman, James J., 2007. "The Economics, Technology and Neuroscience of Human Capability Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 2875, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    9. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance, 2006. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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