Maternal employment and overweight children

J Health Econ. 2003 May;22(3):477-504. doi: 10.1016/S0167-6296(03)00022-5.


This paper seeks to determine whether a causal relationship exists between maternal employment and childhood weight problems. We use matched mother-child data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) and employ econometric techniques to control for observable and unobservable differences across individuals and families that may influence both children's weight and their mothers' work patterns. Our results indicate that a child is more likely to be overweight if his/her mother worked more hours per week over the child's life. Analyses by subgroups show that it is higher socioeconomic status mothers whose work intensity is particularly deleterious for their children's overweight status.

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Causality
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Child, Preschool
  • Employment / economics*
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Models, Econometric
  • Mothers / education
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Probability
  • Social Class*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Women, Working / education
  • Women, Working / statistics & numerical data*