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Obesity and Skill Attainment in Early Childhood

  • John Cawley
  • C. Katharina Spiess

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13997.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13997.

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Date of creation: May 2008
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Publication status: published as Cawley, John and C. Katharina Spiess. “Obesity and Skill Attainment in Early Childhood.” Economics and Human Biology, December 2008, 6(3): 388-397.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13997
Note: CH ED HE LS
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Susan Averett & Sanders Korenman, 1996. "The Economic Reality of the Beauty Myth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(2), pages 304-330.
  2. Thomas, D., 1995. "Like Father, Like Son, Like Mother, Like Daughter, Parental Resources and Child Height," Papers 95-01, RAND - Reprint Series.
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  4. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
  5. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Lance Lochner & Dimitriy V. Masterov, 2005. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," NBER Working Papers 11331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Katja Coneus & Friedhelm Pfeiffer, 2007. "Self-Productivity in Early Childhood," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 39, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  7. 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.
  8. Heckman, James J., 2007. "The Economics, Technology and Neuroscience of Human Capability Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 2875, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. 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.
  10. Morris, Stephen, 2007. "The impact of obesity on employment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 413-433, June.
  11. Giorgio Brunello & Beatrice d'Hombres, 2006. "Does Body Weight affect Wages? Evidence from Europe," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0027, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
  12. 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.
  13. Zagorsky, Jay L., 2005. "Health and wealth: The late-20th century obesity epidemic in the U.S," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 296-313, July.
  14. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
  15. Paraponaris, Alain & Saliba, Berengere & Ventelou, Bruno, 2005. "Obesity, weight status and employability: Empirical evidence from a French national survey," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 241-258, July.
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