Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 581–593 | Cite as

Is Mothers’ Work Related to Childhood Weight Changes in the United States?

Original Paper


Taking family structure, father’s work intensity, and children’s developmental stages into consideration, this study examined the effect of a mother’s previous and contemporaneous work (employment and weekly work hours) on their children’s weight and their likelihood of having weight problems such as obesity, overweight, and underweight. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class of 1998–1999 (ECLS-K), this study adopted a fixed effect model and found that for 3rd to 5th graders, an increase in mothers’ previous work hours among two-parent families below the federal poverty level (FPL) increased the risk of the child being obese, while the current employment of single mothers below the FPL reduced the risk of the child being obese. Surprisingly, the employment of single mothers below the FPL increased the risk of the child being underweight, especially for 1st to 3rd graders.


Mothers’ employment and work hours Body mass index Childhood weight changes Single mothers Married mothers 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Haeil Jung and Chaeyoung Chang declare that they have no conflict of interest, nor financial disclosures to report. This study relied on secondary data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class of 1998–1999 (ECLS-K). No consent forms or Institutional Review Board approval was sought for this reason.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public AdministrationKorea UniversitySeoulKorea
  2. 2.School of Public Affairs, Baruch CollegeCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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