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Parental investments, socioemotional development and nutritional health in Chile

Caro, Juan Carlos (2020): Parental investments, socioemotional development and nutritional health in Chile.

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Abstract

I use a national administrative dataset covering all children attending public funded pre-schools in Chile to estimate production functions for socioemotional skills and body mass index z-scores as a function of parental time investments, while accounting for endogeneity. Estimates are computed at each decile of the distribution allowing for heterogeneity on factor productivity. Results suggests that accounting for child characteristics and family composition, access to public goods, social support and self-efficacy are important drivers of parental time allocation. In turn, increased frequency of parental time investments can substantially boost socioemotional development and reduce obesity risk, particularly for vulnerable children. Children in the bottom of the socioemotional skills distribution could gain 0.4 standard deviations for an one standard deviation increase in time investments. Similar increase can lead to a reduction of 0.8 SD in body mass index z-score among severely obese students. Additional analyses indicates that socioemotional skills can significantly favor the adoption of health behaviors and improved task performance.

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