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Can Too Much TV Ground You for Life? Television Viewing and Child Outcomes


  • Samrat Bhattacharya

    () (FTAM, Cleveland, Ohio)

  • Abdul Munasib

    () (Oklahoma State University)


The number of hours a typical child watches the television is almost double the suggested guideline by American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). A very large number of studies have claimed an adverse effect of television on children and teenagers. In this paper, we use The National Longitudinal Survey (NLS), a rich, nationally representative data set that allows us to observe the intertemporal variations in television viewing behavior and the child outcome measures. Unlike the previous studies, we account for unobservables at the family and the child level, and find that hours of television viewing does not have any effect on Body Mass Index, or reading and mathematics test scores. Only in case of behavioral problems television does have an adverse effect, but the magnitude is small. Despite the conventional wisdom and the ongoing populist movement towards proactive policies, these findings suggest that an emphasis on policies based on existing studies may be premature.

Suggested Citation

  • Samrat Bhattacharya & Abdul Munasib, 2008. "Can Too Much TV Ground You for Life? Television Viewing and Child Outcomes," Economics Working Paper Series 0803, Oklahoma State University, Department of Economics and Legal Studies in Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:okl:wpaper:0803

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomas, Duncan & Lavy, Victor & Strauss, John, 1996. "Public policy and anthropometric outcomes in the Cote d'Ivoire," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 155-192, August.
    2. Benjamin A. Olken, 2009. "Do Television and Radio Destroy Social Capital? Evidence from Indonesian Villages," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(4), pages 1-33, October.
    3. Eric A. Hanushek, 1979. "Conceptual and Empirical Issues in the Estimation of Educational Production Functions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(3), pages 351-388.
    4. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 3-33, February.
    5. Shin-Yi Chou & Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman, 2008. "Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Childhood Obesity," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(4), pages 599-618, November.
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    More about this item


    Television; child development; test score; behavioral problem; body mass index; overweight; obesity; unobservable characteristics.;

    JEL classification:

    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor


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