Rachel Roth provided research assistance through This paper seeks to determine whether a causal relationship exists between maternal employment and childhood overweight. We use matched mother/child data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 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 Childhood overweight may be one of the most significant health issues facing American children today. 1 Over the past three decades, it has grown so dramatically that observers routinely describe the trend as an epidemic. In the 1963 to1970 period, 4 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 11 were defined to be overweight; that level had more than tripled by 1999, reaching 1
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