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The Relationship Between Neighborhood Quality and Obesity Among Children

Author

Listed:
  • Bisakha Sen
  • Stephen Mennemeyer
  • Lisa C. Gary

Abstract

It has long been posited by scientists that we need to have a better understanding in the role that larger contextual factors -- like neighborhood quality and the built environment -- may have on the nation's obesity crisis. This paper explores whether maternal perceptions of neighborhood quality affect children's bodyweight outcomes, and whether racial and ethnic differences in such perceptions may explain any of the hitherto unexplained gap in bodyweight and obesity prevalence among Whites and minorities. The project uses data from the NLSY79 and the CoNLSY datasets. Results indicate that overall neighborhood quality is not significantly related to children's bodyweight. However, one particular characteristic, namely whether or not the mother believes there is enough police protection in the neighborhood, is related. Lack of police protection has robust and significant effects on the BMI-percentile of the children, though it has less robust effects on the risk of becoming obese per se. Finally, there are differences in perceptions about adequate police protection in their neighborhood between Whites and minorities which remain after controlling for other socio-economic characteristics like maternal education, family income and family structure. However, these differences play a minor role in explaining part of the gap in bodyweight between White and minority children.

Suggested Citation

  • Bisakha Sen & Stephen Mennemeyer & Lisa C. Gary, 2009. "The Relationship Between Neighborhood Quality and Obesity Among Children," NBER Working Papers 14985, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14985
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. F. L. Jones, 1983. "On Decomposing the Wage Gap: A Critical Comment on Blinder's Method," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(1), pages 126-130.
    2. Helena Skyt Nielsen, 2000. "Wage discrimination in Zambia: an extension of the Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(6), pages 405-408.
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    4. Rodolfo Nayga, 2001. "Effect of Schooling on Obesity: Is Health Knowledge a Moderating Factor?," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2), pages 129-137.
    5. Jay Bhattacharya & William B. Vogt, 2007. "Do Instrumental Variables Belong in Propensity Scores?," NBER Technical Working Papers 0343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
    7. repec:mpr:mprres:4986 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Sen, Bisakha & Swaminathan, Shailender, 2007. "Maternal prenatal substance use and behavior problems among children in the U.S," MPRA Paper 24307, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
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    13. Douglas Coate, 1983. "The Relationship Between Diet, Parent"s Fatness, and Obesity in Children and Adolescents," NBER Working Papers 1072, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jens Ludwig & Jeffrey R. Kling & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2011. "Mechanism Experiments and Policy Evaluations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 17-38, Summer.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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