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Parental Influence on Children's Unhealthy Lifestyle Activities in UK

Listed author(s):
  • Cristiana Abbafati


    (Department of Economic Theory - Sapienza University of Rome (Italy))

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    It is generally considered that parental lifestyle activities affect children. It is said that parents are an important influence on their children’s behavior and that the habits pass from generation to generation. It is true that children consider their parents as role-models and it is more likely to behave similar to them adopting their healthy or unhealthy activities. However, there are other factors that can affect children’s behavior throughout the years such as their friends, the social class, family finances etc. This study aims at examining how parental lifestyle activities are transmitted. We use the Sixteen-year Follow-up (1986, 16-year old individuals) of the British Cohort Study 1970 Database, where data are collected from individuals born in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, in a specific week in April 1970. A sample of 11,615 16-year old boys and girls is taken in order to see how the smoking, alcohol drinking and physical activity of their parents are affecting their lifestyle. Other factors are also taken into account i.e. the number of natural parents and any possible financial hardship of the family. The analysis is conducted using logistic regression, indicating that the selected independent variables can explain the influences on the dependent variables. Results show great parental influence on children’s drinking, children’s smoking and children’s physical activity. A significant peer influence is also shown for children’s smoking. Children tend to smoke more if their friends smoke. Father’s employment status plays only a small role on children’s drinking habits, though not as expected. If the father is unemployed, children are less likely to drink or smoke. There is no influence by the presence of family financial hardships or the number of natural parents. As a conclusion, our findings suggest that parental and peer habits exert great influence on children’s lifestyles.

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    Paper provided by Sapienza University of Rome, DISS in its series Working Papers with number 7/10.

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    Date of creation: Dec 2010
    Handle: RePEc:saq:wpaper:7/10
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