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Economics and Human Biology

Seung-Yong Han, Alexandra A Brewis, Cindi SturtzSreetharan
For an industrialized nation, obesity rates in South Korea are extremely low. Yet, reflecting an extremely fat-averse, thin-positive society, efforts to lose weight are now reportedly very common. Since the 1980s, South Korea has experienced an increasingly flexible and insecure labor market which was exacerbated by the 1997 economic recession. In this social and economic setting, body shape and weight status, as human capital, may have gained significant bargaining power in the labor market. Consequently, we propose that Koreans, particularly those who are employed in "stable" jobs (i...
March 9, 2018: Economics and Human Biology
Zackary Hawley, Danyang Li, Kurt Schnier, Nicole Turgeon
Our research utilizes the experimental economics laboratory to investigate the impact that reducing disincentives has on organ donation. The experiment consists of four treatments across different levels of donation related costs, which reflect the disincentives associated with being an organ donor. Our experimental results indicate that sizable increases in the organ donation rate are achievable if we reduce the level of disincentives present. The largest observed donation rates arise when a financial return is offered for being an organ donor, which is prohibited under the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA), but nearly 80% of the gains observed under the positive financial incentives can be achieved if all of the disincentives are eliminated...
March 7, 2018: Economics and Human Biology
Katherine E Weisensee, M Katherine Spradley
This study examines levels of fluctuating asymmetry (FA) in Mexican residents, U.S. residents, and undocumented border crossers (UBCs) from Mexico to the United States. Craniofacial structures develop symmetrically under ideal circumstances; however, during periods of developmental stress random deviations from perfect symmetry, or FA, can occur. It is hypothesized that the UBC sample would represent individuals of a lower socioeconomic status (SES) who experienced higher stress levels during development, and that these individuals would consequently have higher levels of FA...
February 24, 2018: Economics and Human Biology
Chen Zhu, Xiaohui Zhang, Qiran Zhao, Qihui Chen
In genetics, heterosis refers to the phenomenon that cross-breeding within species leads to offspring that are genetically fitter than their parents and exhibit improved phenotypic characteristics. Based on the theory of heterosis and existing genetic evidence, offspring of "hybrid" marriages (spouses originating from different states/provinces/countries/areas), though relatively rare due to physical boundaries, may exhibit greater genetic fitness in terms of intelligence, height, or physical attractiveness (the "distance-performance" hypothesis)...
February 19, 2018: Economics and Human Biology
Tom Bundervoet, Sonja Fransen
Research on the impact of violence and conflict on education typically focuses on exposure among a cohort of school-aged children. In line with the fetal origins hypothesis, this paper studies the long-run effect of exposure to adverse maternal health shocks while still in the womb. Exploiting the sudden and discrete nature of the Rwandan genocide and an identification strategy based on temporal and spatial variation, we find that the cohort in utero during the genocide reported on average 0.3 fewer years of schooling in the 2012 Rwanda...
February 18, 2018: Economics and Human Biology
Qinying He, Xun Li, Rui Wang
Childhood obesity in China has been increasingly cited as a major public health issue in recent decades. The effect of grandparents on grandchildren's weight outcome is under-analyzed. Using data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey, we examine the effect of grandparents' coresidence on childhood weight outcome with a sample of 2-13-year-old children in China. We use instrumental variables to address the potential endogeneity of grandparents' coresidence. We show that the effect of grandparents' coresidence on childhood weight outcome is significantly positive...
February 17, 2018: Economics and Human Biology
Nikola Koepke, Joël Floris, Christian Pfister, Frank J Rühli, Kaspar Staub
When investigating the well-being of a society, the living conditions of females are of special importance, not only due to the immediate impact for those directly involved, but also because of the potential intergenerational effects. Studying the dimorphism in the mean height helps to depict variation in the basic biological sex difference due to gender-related factors that potentially determine net nutrition. To expand knowledge of diachronic development in Swiss well-being conditions we investigate changes in the height of adult females born 1770-1930, and compare the series with data on contemporary males from the same sources: We employ a sample of N = 21'028 women and N = 21'329 men from passport-, convict-, maternity hospital-, and voluntary World War II army auxiliary records...
February 16, 2018: Economics and Human Biology
Libertad González
I use birth-certificate data for Spain to document extremely son-biased sex ratios at birth among Indian immigrants (122 boys per 100 girls), especially at higher parities. I also show that the children of Indian immigrants display poor health outcomes during infancy. For instance, almost 10% of boys with Indian parents are born prematurely, compared with 6% of boys with native parents. However, there is no evidence of a gender gap in infant health among the children of Indian immigrants. I provide evidence suggesting that the poor outcomes of Indian children at birth may be attributed to the low endowments of Indian mothers, while the absence of a gender gap may be driven by the fact that the parents who would invest less in girls are less likely to carry the pregnancies of girls to term (more likely to practice sex-selective abortion), combined with the lower cost of prenatal investments in Spain (compared with India)...
February 15, 2018: Economics and Human Biology
Kabir Dasgupta, Keisha T Solomon
In this study, we use matched mother-child data from the National Longitudinal Surveys to study the effects of family size on child health. Focusing on excess body weight indicators as children's health outcome of interest, we examine the effects of exogenous variations in family size generated by twin births and parental preference for mixed sex composition of their children. We find no significant empirical support in favor of the quantity-quality trade-off theory in instrumental variable regression analysis...
February 8, 2018: Economics and Human Biology
Huixia Wang, Chenggang Wang, Timothy J Halliday
We estimate the impact of the Great Recession of 2007-2009 on health outcomes in the United States. We show that a one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate resulted in a 7.8-8.8% increase in reports of poor health. In addition, mental health was adversely impacted. These effects were concentrated among those with strong labor force attachments. Whites, the less educated, and women were the most impacted demographic groups.
January 27, 2018: Economics and Human Biology
John R Nofsinger, Fernando M Patterson, Corey A Shank
We examine the relation between testosterone, cortisol, and financial decisions in a sample of naïve investors. We find that testosterone level is positively related to excess risk-taking, whereas cortisol level is negatively related to excess risk-taking (correlation coefficient [r]: 0.75 and -0.21, respectively). Additionally, we find support for the dual-hormone hypothesis in a financial context. Specifically, the testosterone-to-cortisol ratio is significantly related to loss aversion. Individuals with a higher ratio are 3...
January 27, 2018: Economics and Human Biology
Tommy Bengtsson, Anton Nilsson
This paper considers the long-term effects of smoking on disability retirement in Sweden. Smoking is known to have damaging effects on health, but there is limited evidence on how the effects of smoking translate into worse labour market outcomes, such as the inability to work. In contrast to the few previous studies on smoking and disability retirement, we use a large population sample with registry information on smoking, which is recorded for all women who give birth in Sweden. Thanks to these comprehensive data, we are able to account for a much broader range of potential confounders...
January 11, 2018: Economics and Human Biology
Joan Costa-Font, Martin Ljunge
The association between occupational status and health has been taken to reveal the presence of occupational health inequalities. However, that interpretation assumes no influence of health status in climbing the occupational ladder. This paper documents evidence of non-negligible returns to occupation status on health (which we refer as 'healthy worker effect'). We use a unique empirical strategy that addresses the problem of reverse causality. That is, an instrumental variable strategy using the variation in average health in the migrant's country of origin, a health measure plausibly not determined by the migrant's occupational status...
January 9, 2018: Economics and Human Biology
Lucia Mangiavacchi, Luca Piccoli
This study analyses whether an excessive parental alcohol consumption during childhood can affect long run children's educational attainments. Using 19 waves of the Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS), where individuals and their families are followed from childhood to adulthood, this study analyses parental alcohol consumption during childhood (between 1994 and 2001) and its relation with children's educational attainment about twelve years later (from 2005 to 2014). Panel estimations show that mother's excessive alcohol consumption during childhood is consistently negatively associated with children educational outcomes, as years of education, the highest education grade achieved and the probability of having a tertiary education degree, a finding that is robust to possible endogeneity issues...
December 29, 2017: Economics and Human Biology
Astghik Mavisakalyan
This paper studies the labour market returns to physical attractiveness using data from three transition countries of the Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. I estimate a large positive effect of attractive looks on males' probability of employment. Results from the most comprehensive model suggest a marginal effect of 11.1 percentage points. Using a partial identification approach, I show that this relationship is likely to be causal. After accounting for covariates, particularly measures of human capital, there is no evidence for a statistically significant link between females' attractiveness and employment...
February 2018: Economics and Human Biology
Emilio Colombo, Valentina Rotondi, Luca Stanca
We study the relationship between macroeconomic conditions and self-reported health in a large sample of Italian individuals, focusing on the mediating role played by health behaviors (smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, eating habits) and economic stress. Our findings indicate that, overall, higher local unemployment is negatively related to individuals' health conditions. A one percentage point increase in the province-level unemployment rate is associated with a significant increase in the probability of experiencing diabetes (0...
February 2018: Economics and Human Biology
Grażyna Liczbińska, Zbigniew Czapla, Janusz Piontek, Robert M Malina
Although the relationships between economic conditions and biological variables over the past two centuries in Poland are reasonably well-documented, the influence of economic and political disruptions, including nutritional privation, during the years immediately before, during and shortly after World War II (WWII) has received less attention. This paper considers the association between age at menarche and body size of university students born before, during and after WWII and father's level of education, a commonly used indicator of family economic status in Poland...
February 2018: Economics and Human Biology
Christian King
Food insecurity remains a persistent problem in the United States. Several studies have shown that food insecurity is associated with child externalizing and internalizing behavior problems. However, some potential methodological limitations remain. For example, most studies use a household measure of food insecurity while there is evidence that children, especially younger ones, tend to be shielded by their parents from experiencing food insecurity. In addition, the mechanisms through which food insecurity affects children are not well understood...
February 2018: Economics and Human Biology
Peng Nie, Alina Alfonso Leon, Maria Elena Díaz Sánchez, Alfonso Sousa-Poza
Using two waves of the National Survey on Risk Factors and Chronic Diseases in Cuba, we identify demographic and socioeconomic characteristics associated with obesity among urban adults aged 18+ and decompose the change in obesity within this 9-year period using both the mean-based Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition and a nonlinear approach. Our results reveal significant increases in overweight and obesity (2.3, 3.1, and 7.6 percentage points for BMI-based overweight, BMI-based obesity, and abdominal obesity, respectively)...
February 2018: Economics and Human Biology
Michal Stoklosa, Kerem Shuval, Jeffrey Drope, Rusty Tchernis, Mark Pachucki, Amy Yaroch, Matthew Harding
Previous research has found that impatient time preferences and self-control problems (present bias) are related to increased obesity risk. However, scant evidence exists pertaining to whether parents' impatience and self-control problems impact the obesity status of their children, too. Accordingly, we explore this study question among a large national sample of US adults and their children. Study results confirm previous findings indicating that intertemporal preferences are related to adults' obesity status...
December 20, 2017: Economics and Human Biology
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