Parental Unemployment and Child Health in China

45 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2016


This paper studies the causal effect of maternal and paternal unemployment on child health in China, analyzing panel data for the period 1997-2004, when the country underwent economic reforms leading to massive layoffs. We find that paternal unemployment reduces child health, while maternal unemployment has beneficial child health impacts. Analysis of channels shows that paternal and maternal unemployment have different effects on income, time use, mothers' blood pressure, and certain health investments, including children's diets. Our results support the notion that traditional gender roles can explain why mothers and fathers' unemployment affect child health so differently.

Keywords: child health, unemployment, nutrition, China

JEL Classification: I12, J13, J69, O15

Suggested Citation

Pieters, Janneke and Rawlings, Samantha, Parental Unemployment and Child Health in China. IZA Discussion Paper No. 10021, Available at SSRN:

Wageningen UR ( email )

Hollandseweg 1
Wageningen, 6706KN

Samantha Rawlings

University of Bristol ( email )

University of Bristol,
Senate House, Tyndall Avenue
Bristol, BS8 ITH
United Kingdom

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