The Department of Economics is pleased to have Nancy Kong, Dalhousie University, presenting "Fatter Kids and the Shattered "Iron Rice Bowl”: Intergenerational Effects of Economic Insecurity During Chinese State-Owned Enterprise Reform."All are welcome.
Studies of the effects of economic insecurity on health usually neglect children. In this paper, I explore the causal relationship between parental economic insecurity and children's weight gain using the natural experiment of massive layoffs of 34 million employees in the Chinese state sector in the late 1990s due to unanticipated state-owned enterprise reform, which marked the end of the "iron rice bowl" or guarantee of employment security. Using the provincial and year-level layoff rates and income loss from the layoffs, I estimate its effects on children's body mass measures adjusting for age and gender growth standards. A continuous difference-in-difference estimation with individual fixed effects indicates that if the expected economic loss from layoff increases by 10 percentage point, a 10-year-old boy increases his body mass measure distribution from the median to the 86th percentile. The results persist even for boys whose parents kept their jobs, indicating the importance of anxiety about the potential loss, as well as the experience of actual loss. Quantile regressions then demonstrate that economic insecurity has greater effects on boys at a higher distribution of waist-to-height ratio, which suggests that overweight children are more severely affected by parental economic insecurity. Girls' weight outcomes are not significantly affected by the layoffs, suggesting a gender difference in response to parental economic insecurity. After accounting for the intergenerational effects, this paper shows higher public health costs associated with economic insecurity than previous studies have suggested.
Building: Tilley Hall
Room Number: 104
1 506 453 4828