The Effects of Parental Socioeconomic Status on the Prevalence of Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating Behaviors in U.S. Adolescents

Xu, Amelia [Browse]
Senior thesis


Noonan, Kelly [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Economics [Browse]
Class year
Summary note
This paper explores the relationship between three socioeconomic components – household income, parent education, and parent employment – on the prevalence of eating disorders in United States adolescents, using data drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Using probit regression analysis, this study utilizes marginal effects to interpret the effects of the socioeconomic covariates and control variables on the probability of developing an eating disorder, across three various eating disorder definitions. This study finds the result that household income and parent employment do not seem to have a significant effect on eating disorder prevalence, and that parent education significantly impacts eating disorder prevalence. The most highly-educated parents are the most likely to have a child who develops an eating disorder. We also find that black respondents are less likely than those of other races to develop eating disorders, and that married parents are less likely than unmarried parents to have children with eating disorders. Finally, this paper strongly affirms the result found by existing research that females are at much greater risk than males to develop eating disorders (NIMH 2016).

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