IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/pra/mprapa/28997.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Gender Weight Gap: Sons, Daughters, and Maternal Weight

Author

Listed:
  • Pham-Kanter, Genevieve

Abstract

Although the effect of parents on their children has been the focus of much research on health and families, the influence of children on their parents has not been well studied. In this paper, I examine the effect of the sex composition of children on mothers' physical condition, as proxied by their weight. Using two independent datasets, I find that, many years after the birth of their children, women who have first-born daughters weigh on average 2-6 pounds less than women who have first-born sons. This weight gap emerges around the time that the first-born child is in his or her pre-teen years and is largest during the child's teen years. I find indirect evidence that this gender weight gap is associated with bargaining power shifts and with mothers' appearance-centered behaviors in the presence of daughters, but find no support for the hypothesis that mothers with sons weigh more because sons eat more than daughters and induce mothers to eat more. I also show that it is unlikely that underlying biological factors like a Trivers-Willard effect are significantly biasing these estimates. Although this weight gap may appear small, weight gains of this magnitude may contribute to increased risk of breast cancer. This study is the first to show that children can have real impacts on the physical condition of their parents and points to a novel channel through which policy makers may be able to influence health.

Suggested Citation

  • Pham-Kanter, Genevieve, 2010. "The Gender Weight Gap: Sons, Daughters, and Maternal Weight," MPRA Paper 28997, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:28997
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/28997/1/MPRA_paper_28997.pdf
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Andrew J. Oswald & Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2010. "Daughters and Left-Wing Voting," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 213-227, May.
    2. Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2008. "The Demand for Sons," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1085-1120.
    3. Yoram Ben-Porath & Finis Welch, 1976. "Do Sex Preferences Really Matter?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(2), pages 285-307.
    4. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 409-439.
    5. Lundberg, Shelly & Pollak, Robert A, 1993. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 988-1010, December.
    6. Case, Anne & Fertig, Angela & Paxson, Christina, 2005. "The lasting impact of childhood health and circumstance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 365-389, March.
    7. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
    8. Zhehui Luo & Ren Mu & Xiaobo Zhang, 2006. "Famine and Overweight in China ," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 28(3), pages 296-304.
    9. Jay Teachman & Paul Schollaert, 1989. "Gender of children and birth timing," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 26(3), pages 411-423, August.
    10. Shelly Lundberg, 2005. "Sons, Daughters, and Parental Behaviour," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 340-356, Autumn.
    11. Marianne Bertrand & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2009. "Time Use and Food Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 170-176, May.
    12. repec:ucn:wpaper:10197/317 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Currie, Janet, 2000. "Child health in developed countries," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.),Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 19, pages 1053-1090, Elsevier.
    14. Lundberg, Shelly, 2005. "The Division of Labor by New Parents: Does Child Gender Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 1787, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Shing-Yi Wang, 2019. "The Labor Supply Consequences of Having a Boy in China," NBER Working Papers 26185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. N Powdthavee & S Wu & A Oswald, 2010. "The Effects of Daughters on Health Choices and Risk Behaviour," Discussion Papers 10/03, Department of Economics, University of York.
    3. Avinash Kishore & Dean Spears, 2014. "Having a Son Promotes Clean Cooking Fuel Use in Urban India: Women's Status and Son Preference," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62(4), pages 673-699.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    gender; daughters; obesity; body weight;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:28997. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/vfmunde.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.