Parental job loss and child health: evidence from China

Janneke Pieters , Wageningen University

Maternal time use has been identified as an important channel through which recessions improve child health, dominating the impacts of lower income. Similarly, a complementary literature on the micro-level impact of parental job loss on child earnings and education suggests that mothers respond to job loss by allocating greater attention towards child rearing. This paper studies the causal effect of parental job loss on child health in a developing country, analysing panel data for China during the period 1997-2004, when the country underwent widespread economic reforms that led to massive layoffs. We find important differences in the impacts of fathers’ and mothers’ job loss. Fathers’ job loss reduces weight-for-age, increases stunting, and increases blood pressure of children, while maternal job loss has no effect on child health. Analysis of children’s diets further shows that fathers’ job loss reduces fat intake and children’s dietary diversity, while maternal job loss significantly reduces the time children spend on domestic chores.

About the speaker
Janneke Pieters is Assistant Professor at the Wageningen University Development Economics Group, and Research Fellow at IZA. Before joining Wageningen University, she was Research Associate at IZA, and obtained her PhD in Economics from the University of Groningen. Her research interests are in development and labor economics - especially informality and (gender) inequality in the labor market - and international trade.

Venue: Room 1.23

Date: 04 February 2016

Time: 13:30 - 14:30