Reading, writing, and raisinets: are school finances contributing to children’s obesity?
The proportion of adolescents in the United States who are obese has nearly tripled over the last two decades. At the same time, schools, often citing financial pressures, have given students greater access to ?junk? foods and soda pop, using proceeds from these sales to fund school programs. We examine whether schools under financial pressure are more likely to adopt potentially unhealthful food policies. Next, we examine whether students? Body Mass Index (BMI) is higher in counties where a greater proportion of schools are predicted to allow these food policies. Because the financial ...
Maternal employment and overweight children
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 ...
Making the (Letter) Grade: The Incentive Effects of Mandatory Pass/Fail Courses
In Fall 2014, Wellesley College began mandating pass/fail grading for courses taken by first-year, first-semester students, although instructors continued to record letter grades. We identify the causal effect of the policy on course choice and performance, using a regression-discontinuity-in-time design. Students shifted to lower-grading STEM courses in the first semester, but did not increase their engagement with STEM in later semesters. Letter grades of first-semester students declined by 0.13 grade points, or 23% of a standard deviation. We evaluate causal channels of the grade ...
Women's Colleges and Economics Major Choice: Evidence from Wellesley College Applicants
Many observers argue that diversity in Economics and STEM fields is critical, not simply because of egalitarian goals, but because who is in a field may shape what is studied by it. If increasing the rate of majoring in mathematically-intensive fields among women is a worthy goal, then understanding whether women’s colleges causally affect that choice is important. Among all admitted applicants to Wellesley College, enrollees are 7.2 percentage points (94%) more likely to receive an Economics degree than non-enrollees (a plausible lower bound given negative selection into enrollment on math ...
Childhood obesity: an issue for public health advocates, researchers, and community development practitioners
Obesity rates for U.S. children have risen precipitously over the past 20 years. According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 1999?2002, 15 percent of children on average, ages 2?19 are obese. With little evidence that individual weight loss programs can solve the problem, attention is increasingly turning to the environment in which children live, in an effort to understand both the causes of and potential solutions to childhood obesity. Drawing on recent research, this article provides an overview of childhood obesity trends from the 1970s to 2002, ...
Job loss: causes, consequences, and policy responses
From 2001 to 2003, 5.3 million workers were displaced. Beyond quantifying the numbers of jobs lost lie important questions about gains and losses from these changes and what policies may affect them. These questions will be addressed at an upcoming Chicago Fed conference.
Women and the Phillips curve: do women’s and men’s labor market outcomes differentially affect real wage growth and inflation?
During the economic expansion of the 1990s, the United States enjoyed both low inflation rates and low levels of unemployment. Juhn, Murphy, and Topel (2002) point out that the low unemployment rates for men in the 1990s were accompanied by historically high rates of non-employment suggesting that the 1990s economy was not as strong as the unemployment rate might indicate. We include women in the analysis and examine whether the Phillips curve relationships between real compensation growth, changes in inflation, and labor market slackness are the same for men and women and whether measures of ...
Obesity, disability, and the labor force
Men of prime working age have increased their non-employment rates over the past 30 years, and disability rates have also increased. Many have noted that this increase has happened against a backdrop of generally improving health in the U.S. population. However, obesity has increased substantially over this period. The authors find that changes in the characteristics of male workers?including age, race, ethnicity, and obesity levels?can explain a large portion (around 40 percent) of the increase in non-employment.
Economic perspectives on childhood obesity
Obesity rates in the U.S. have skyrocketed in the last 30 years. Among adults, obesity rates more than doubled from the early 1970s to the late 1990s. Children obesity rates nearly tripled over the same period. This article discusses why obesity is of interest from an economic perspective. It them examines changes in children's lives, particularly the increase in maternal employment, that may have contributed to increases in children's weight.