Parental Work Hours and Childhood Obesity: Evidence Using Instrumental Variables Related to Sibling School Eligibility

48 Pages Posted: 1 May 2017

See all articles by Charles Courtemanche

Charles Courtemanche

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Greensboro - Department of Economics

Rusty Tchernis

Georgia State University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Xilin Zhou

Georgia State University

Abstract

This study exploits plausibly exogenous variation from the youngest sibling's school eligibility to estimate the effects of parental work on the weight outcomes of older children in the household. Data come from the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth linked to the Child and Young Adult Supplement. We first show that mothers' work hours increase gradually as the age of the youngest child rises, whereas mothers' spouses' work hours exhibit a discontinuous jump at kindergarten eligibility.Leveraging these insights, we develop an instrumental variables model that shows that parents' work hours lead to larger increases in children's BMI z-scores and probabilities of being overweight and obese than those identified in previous studies. We find no evidence that the impacts of maternal and paternal work are different. Subsample analyses find that the effects are concentrated among advantaged households, as measured by an index involving education, race, and mother's marital status.

Keywords: childhood obesity, maternal employment, women's labor supply

JEL Classification: I12, J22

Suggested Citation

Courtemanche, Charles and Tchernis, Rusty and Zhou, Xilin, Parental Work Hours and Childhood Obesity: Evidence Using Instrumental Variables Related to Sibling School Eligibility. IZA Discussion Paper No. 10739, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2960548

Charles Courtemanche (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Greensboro - Department of Economics ( email )

Greensboro, NC 27402-6165
United States

Rusty Tchernis

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www2.gsu.edu/~ecort

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Xilin Zhou

Georgia State University ( email )

35 Broad Street
Atlanta, GA 30303-3083
United States

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