The Gender Weight Gap: Sons, Daughters, and Maternal Weight
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.
|Date of creation:||Nov 2010|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2006.
"From the cradle to the labor market? The effect of birth weight on adult outcomes,"
LSE Research Online Documents on Economics
19425, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
- 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, MIT Press, vol. 122(1), pages 409-439, 02.
- Sandra E. Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2006. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," CEE Discussion Papers 0061, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
- Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2005. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 11796, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Sandra E. Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," Working Papers 200718, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
- Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2005. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 1864, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- 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.
- Lundberg, S. & Pollak, R.A., 1991. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Working Papers 91-08, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
- Lundberg, S. & Pollak, R.A., 1991. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 91-08, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
- Marianne Bertrand & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2009. "Time Use and Food Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 170-76, May.
- John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
- Shelly Lundberg, 2005. "Sons, Daughters, and Parental Behaviour," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 340-356, Autumn.
- 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.
- Anne Case & Angela Fertig & Christina Paxson, 2004. "The Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance," Working Papers 246, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
- Ben-Porath, Yoram & Welch, Finis, 1976. "Do Sex Preferences Really Matter?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 285-307, May.
- 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.
- Lundberg, Shelly, 2005. "The Division of Labor by New Parents: Does Child Gender Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 1787, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- 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.
- Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2008. "The Demand for Sons," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1085-1120.
- 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.
- Jay Teachman & Paul Schollaert, 1989. "Gender of children and birth timing," Demography, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 411-423, August.
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: (Ekkehart Schlicht)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.