Susan Averett

Dana Professor of Economics

Department of Economics, Lafayette College

NLS user since 1990

  • Averett, Susan L., and Yang Wang. (2013). “The effects of EITC payment expansion on maternal smoking.” Health Economics. 22(11), 1344-1359.
  • Averett, Susan L., Laura M. Argys and Daniel I. Rees (2011). “Older siblings and adolescent risky behavior: does parenting play a role?” Journal of Population Economics. 24(3): 957-978.
  • Averett, Susan and David C. Stifel (2010). “Race and gender differences in the cognitive effects of childhood overweight.” Applied Economics Letters, 17(17): 1673-1679.
  • Stifel, David C., and Susan L. Averett (2009). “Childhood overweight in the United States: A quantile regression approach.” Economics & Human Biology 7 (3) (DEC): 387-97.
  • Argys, Laura M., Daniel I. Rees, Susan L. Averett, and Benjima Witoonchart (2006). “Birth order and risky adolescent behavior.” Economic Inquiry 44 (2): 215-33.
  • Averett, Susan, and Sanders Korenman (1996). “The economic reality of the beauty myth.” Journal of Human Resources 31 (2): 304-30.
What I learned from NLS data

I have learned the value of an ongoing longitudinal survey for addressing important research questions. From my own work, which is on-going with the NLSY, I have learned that birth order matters in terms of explaining risky behavior and that this is only partially explained by parental supervision. In addition, I've spent a great deal of effort examining the consequences of obesity. By including height and weight in a labor market oriented database, the NLSY staff created an invaluable opportunity to understand the effects of the obesity epidemic on labor market outcomes. Along with coauthors, I've used these data to document a wage penalty to obesity that primarily accrues to women. I've shown that obese children may score lower on tests of cognitive ability and that obesity plays a role in the marriage market. Finally, recent work of mine established that the EITC has spillover effects in terms of maternal health in that it lowers smoking rates among mothers.

Why I chose NLS data

While I have used the NLSY for a variety of research projects, ranging from the effect of child care costs on women's labor supply to the effects of obesity on marriage and earnings, there are three reasons that stand out as primary reasons for using the NLSY. First, the longitudinal nature of the dataset is critical to addressing many research questions. Second, the rich array of variables make it possible to address interesting research questions and finally, the linked mother-child data is a valuable resource that has surely enhanced our understanding of the role of various inputs into children's outcomes.