Maternal Employment and Childhood Obesity: A Search for Mechanisms in Time Use Data

29 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2007 Last revised: 30 Aug 2021

See all articles by John Cawley

John Cawley

Cornell University - College of Human Ecology, Department of Policy Analysis & Management (PAM); Cornell University - College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Economics; Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Economics (ESE); National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) - J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics; NBER; IZA

Feng Liu

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics; The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen

Date Written: November 2007

Abstract

Recent research has found that maternal employment is associated with an increased risk of childhood obesity. This paper explores mechanisms for that correlation. We estimate models of instrumental variables using a unique dataset, the American Time Use Survey, that measure the effect of maternal employment on the mother's allocation of time to activities related to child diet and physical activity. We find that employed women spend significantly less time cooking, eating with their children, and playing with their children, and are more likely to purchase prepared foods. We find suggestive evidence that these decreases in time are only partly offset by husbands and partners. These findings offer plausible mechanisms for the association of maternal employment with childhood obesity.

Suggested Citation

Cawley, John and Liu, Feng, Maternal Employment and Childhood Obesity: A Search for Mechanisms in Time Use Data (November 2007). NBER Working Paper No. w13600, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1029941

John Cawley (Contact Author)

Cornell University - College of Human Ecology, Department of Policy Analysis & Management (PAM) ( email )

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Feng Liu

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics ( email )

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The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen ( email )

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