Original Paper

Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 204-218

First online:

Maternal Work and Child Overweight and Obesity: The Importance of Timing

  • Daniel P. MillerAffiliated withBoston University School of Social Work Email author 

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Previous studies have found that increased work by mothers results in an increased likelihood that children are obese. Building upon this work, this study uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-Child Supplement to investigate whether the timing of maternal work matters to this relationship. Fixed effects models found that maternal work at ages 9–11 and 12–14 was related to an increased rate of overweight during the same periods, while work at ages 6–8 resulted in a decreased rate of obesity in the same period and later at ages 9–11, a novel finding. Subgroup analyses found that effects were confined to families who were relatively low income and to children who grew up with single mothers.


Child obesity Child overweight Developmental stage Maternal employment Timing