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Health Econ. 1996 Sep-Oct;5(5):383-407.

Quality time: how parents' schooling affects child health through its interaction with childcare time in Bangladesh.

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  • 1Leonard Davis Institute, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, USA. dbishai@hpcsun01.sph.jhu.edu

Abstract

A child health production function is presented with the key feature being an interaction term between a caregiver's schooling and their exposure time to the child. The production function is estimated using a 2SLS fixed effects model with lagged childcare time, resource allocation and child health as instruments for the first differences of these same endogenous variables. The 1978 Intrafamily Food Distribution and Feeding Practices Survey dataset from Bangladesh is used together with census data. The production function estimates indicate that part of the salutary effects of parental education on child health require that the child actually be exposed to the educated parent. Given the demographic makeup of the study sample and the assumption that age education and gender completely account for productivity, teenage brothers and fathers would have the highest marginal productivity for child health and mothers and grandmothers the least. If economic opportunity draws mothers away from childcare, the presence of other household members with higher schooling levels offers the potential for an improvement in the overall quality of childcare time. In the present study the households failed to set the marginal labour product of child health for each of the caregivers equal. Thus, the quality of childcare may not be the household's sole concern in determining time allocation.

PIP:

Data from the 1978 Intrafamily Food Distribution and Feeding Practices Survey conducted in the Matlab, Bangladesh, and 1982 census data from the Matlab were applied to a health production model to study the mechanism by which parental education influences child health. The purpose was to determine whether time spent in child care by the educated parent influences the celebrated effect of schooling on parental productivity of child health. The model assumed that age, education, and gender completely account for productivity. More education for a caregiver made each hour spent with the child a more health-producing hour. Teenage brothers and fathers as caregivers were associated with the highest marginal productivity for child health while mothers and grandmothers the least. Fathers, but not mothers or adolescents, were drawn away from child care responsibilities when food prices rose. When mothers were drawn away from child care, other household members with higher education levels provided the potential for an improvement in the overall quality of child care time. Child health requires nutrients as well as quality child care responsibilities; the households must allocate time to produce optimal amounts of each. Part of the beneficial effects of parental education on child health require that the child actually be subjected to the educated parent. The households did not set the marginal labor product of child health to each of the caregivers equally, indicating that the quality of child care may not be the household's sole concern in determining time allocation.

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