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The effect of schooling on women’s overweight and obesity: a natural experiment in Nigeria

Barlow, Pepita (2020) The effect of schooling on women’s overweight and obesity: a natural experiment in Nigeria. Demography. ISSN 0070-3370 (In Press)

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Abstract

An extensive social scientific literature documents the importance of schooling in preventing overweight and obesity among women. However, prior quasi-experimental studies investigating the causal effect of schooling on women’s overweight and obesity focused almost exclusively on high-income countries (HICs). Schooling effects may differ in low- or middle-income countries (LMICs), where information about the harms from being overweight is sparse, and where larger body sizes can be socially valued. Here I evaluate the causal impact of schooling on women’s probability of being overweight or obese in a LMIC, Nigeria, using data from the 2003, 2008 and 2013 Demographic Health Surveys. In 1976 the Nigerian government abolished primary school fees and increased funding for primary school construction, creating quasi-random variation in access to primary school according to an individual’s age and the number of newly constructed schools in their state of residence. I exploit both sources of variation and use a two-stage instrumental variables approach to estimate the effect of increased schooling on the probability of being overweight or obese. Each additional year of schooling increased the probability of being overweight or obese by 6%, but this effect estimate was not statistically significant different from zero. This finding differs from the protective effect of schooling documented in several HICs, suggesting that contextual factors play an important role calibrating the influence of additional schooling on overweight or obesity. Furthermore, my findings contrast markedly with the positive correlation between schooling and overweight/ obesity identified in previous studies in Nigeria, suggesting that studies which fail to account for selection bias over-estimate the causal effect of schooling. There is a need for more robust causal research examining the effect of schooling and other social causes on overweight and obesity in LMIC contexts.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.springer.com/journal/13524
Additional Information: © 2020 Population Association of America
Divisions: Health Policy
International Inequalities Institute
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2020 09:03
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2020 14:27
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/104668

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