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Child Care Subsidies and Childhood Obesity

  • Chris M. Herbst
  • Erdal Tekin

Child care subsidies play a critical role in facilitating the transition of disadvantaged mothers from welfare to work. However, little is known about the influence of these policies on children's health and well-being. In this paper, we study the impact of subsidy receipt on low-income children's weight outcomes in the fall and spring of kindergarten. The goals of our empirical analysis are twofold. We first utilize standard OLS and fixed effects methods to explore body mass index as well as measures of overweight and obesity. We then turn to quantile regression to address the possibility that subsidy receipt has heterogeneous effects on children's weight at different points in the BMI distribution. Results suggest that subsidy receipt is associated with increases in BMI and a greater likelihood of being overweight and obese. We also find substantial variation in subsidy effects across the BMI distribution. In particular, child care subsidies have no effect on BMI at the lower end of the distribution, inconsistent effects in the middle of the distribution, and large effects at the top of the distribution. Our results point to the use of non-parental child care, particularly centerbased services, as the key mechanism through which subsidies influence children's weight outcomes.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15007.

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Date of creation: May 2009
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Publication status: published as Chris Herbst & Erdal Tekin, 2011. "Child care subsidies and childhood obesity," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 349-378, September.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15007
Note: CH HE
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  1. Herbst, Chris M. & Tekin, Erdal, 2010. "Child care subsidies and child development," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 618-638, August.
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  8. Herbst, Chris M., 2008. "Who are the eligible non-recipients of child care subsidies?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(9), pages 1037-1054, September.
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  17. Jaume Garcia & Pedro J. Hernández & Ángel López Nicolás, 1998. "How wide is the gap? An investigation of gender wage differences using quantile regression," Economics Working Papers 287, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
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  22. Naci Mocan, 2007. "Can consumers detect lemons? An empirical analysis of information asymmetry in the market for child care," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 20(4), pages 743-780, October.
  23. Angrist, Joshua D. & Krueger, Alan B., 1999. "Empirical strategies in labor economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 23, pages 1277-1366 Elsevier.
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