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Biroli, P., Boneva, T., Raja, A. and Rauh, C.

Parental Beliefs About Returns to Child Health Investments

Journal of Econometrics


Abstract: Childhood obesity has adverse health and productivity consequences and it poses negative externalities to health services. To shed light on the role of parents, we elicit parental beliefs about the returns and the persistence of a healthy diet and exercise routine in childhood. Parents believe both types of investments to improve child and adult health outcomes. Consistent with a model of taste formation, parents believe that childhood health behaviors persist into adulthood. We show that perceived returns are predictive of health investments and outcomes, and that less educated parents view the returns to health investments to be lower. Our descriptive evidence suggests that beliefs contribute to the socioeconomic inequality in health outcomes and the intergenerational transmission of obesity.

Keywords: Parental investments, Health, Beliefs, Inequality, Obesity

JEL Codes: D19, I10, I12, I14

Author links: Christopher Rauh  

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Theme: transmission