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The effect of gender-specific labor market conditions on children’s weight

Bongkyun Kim (), Michael R. Thomsen (), Rodolfo Nayga () and Anthony Goudie ()
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Bongkyun Kim: Kangwon National University
Michael R. Thomsen: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Anthony Goudie: Director of Research and Evaluation Arkansas Center for Health Improvement

Health Economics Review, 2021, vol. 11, issue 1, 1-13

Abstract: Abstract Background Macroeconomic conditions are widely known to influence health outcomes through direct behavioral change or indirect mental effects of individuals. However, they have not received much attention in relation to childhood obesity. Methods Using gender-specific predicted employment growth rates as an index for labor market conditions, we analyze how economic shocks affect children’s weight status in Arkansas. To understand the underlying mechanisms behind these results, we use data on individual time use to examine how economic shocks are related to activities related to children’s weight. Results Improvement in the female labor market is associated with an increase in body mass index (BMI) and the probability that a child is overweight or obese, while an improvement in the male labor market has no significant effects on children’s weight. This impact is particularly evident among female children, older children, and African-American children. We also find a negative effect of improvements in the female labor market on time spent on preparation for foods at home. Conclusions These results suggest that a decrease in time spent preparing home-cooked foods might be a plausible explanation for the pro-cyclical relationship between children’s weight and improvement in the labor market conditions. Thus, the policy implications of our paper should be aimed at mitigating the adverse effects of women’s labor participation.

Keywords: Labor market conditions; Child overweight; Preparing home-cooked foods; Time use data (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1186/s13561-021-00345-9

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