The effects of obesity on human capital accumulation: Evidence from Spain


Childhood obesity is a pressing health issue in developed countries, including Spain, where high rates persist. This study investigates the impact of childhood obesity on academic performance and human capital accumulation among Andalusian high school students. Taking advantage of exogenous obesity peer effects, class obesity prevalence is used as an instrumental variable for individual obesity. The findings reveal that obesity negatively impacts academic achievement, particularly in cognitive abilities for boys, and mathematics and overall grades for girls, with the latter experiencing higher effects. Psychological well-being, time preferences, and expectations about labor market discrimination are identified as important factors driving these effects, while the role of bullying remains inconclusive. These results highlight the importance of addressing childhood obesity and its implications for educational outcomes.

Status: Defended Master thesis