The effect of gender-specific labor market conditions on children's weight. Academic Article uri icon


  • 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.

published proceedings

  • Health Econ Rev

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Kim, B., Thomsen, M. R., Nayga, R. M., & Goudie, A.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Kim, Bongkyun||Thomsen, Michael R||Nayga, Rodolfo M||Goudie, Anthony

publication date

  • January 2021