NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Is Being in School Better? The Impact of School on Children's BMI When Starting Age is Endogenous

Patricia M. Anderson, Kristin F. Butcher, Elizabeth U. Cascio, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach

NBER Working Paper No. 16673
Issued in January 2011
NBER Program(s):   CH   HE

In this paper, we investigate the impact of attending school on body weight and obesity. We use school starting age cutoff dates to compare weight outcomes for similar age children with different years of school exposure. As is the case with academic outcomes, school exposure is related to unobserved determinants of weight outcomes because some families choose to have their child start school late (or early). If one does not account for this endogeneity, it appears that an additional year of school exposure results in a greater BMI and a higher probability of being overweight or obese. When actual exposure is instrumented with expected exposure based on school starting dates and birthday, the significant positive effects disappear, and most point estimates become negative and insignificant. However, for children not eating the school lunch, there is a significant negative effect on the probability of being overweight.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16673

Published: Anderson, Patricia M. & Butcher, Kristin F. & Cascio, Elizabeth U. & Schanzenbach, Diaane Whitmore, 2011. "Is Being in School Better? The Impact of School on Children's BMI When Starting Age is Endogeneous" Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), 977-986, September.

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