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The Long Reach of Childhood Health and Circumstance: Evidence from the Whitehall II Study

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  • Anne Case
  • Christina Paxson

Abstract

We use data from the Whitehall II Study to examine the joint evolution of health status and economic status over the life course. We study the links between health and socioeconomic status in childhood and health and employment status in middle and older ages. Because the population from which this cohort was drawn consisted almost exclusively of white collar civil servants, the Whitehall II sample will in general provide inconsistent estimates of the association between childhood conditions and adult outcomes for the population as a whole. To sign the direction of the bias, we compare our findings for Whitehall II with those from two nationally representative data sets in which we can mimic selection into white collar positions. We find that the Whitehall II estimates are systematically lower than those from our nationally representative cohorts, until we restrict those cohorts to their white collar members only. In contrast to researchers who have used the Whitehall II data to argue against parental disadvantage as an explanation of socioeconomic inequality in health, we find early life socioeconomic status is significantly associated with health over the life course. Using fixed effect first-difference models, we examine the association between health and employment status in middle age and health and employment status at older ages. We find that current position in the civil service is not associated with future health, but current self-assessed health is significantly associated with promotion in the civil service.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 121 (2011)
Issue (Month): 554 (08)
Pages: F183-F204

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:121:y:2011:i:554:p:f183-f204

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References

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  1. Case, Anne & Paxson, Christina, 2001. "Mothers and others: who invests in children's health?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 301-328, May.
  2. Janet Currie, 2008. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Socioeconomic Status, Poor Health in Childhood, and Human Capital Development," NBER Working Papers 13987, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2010. "Causes And Consequences Of Early Life Health," Working Papers 1214, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  4. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2005. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 11796, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Case, Anne & Paxson, Christina & Islam, Mahnaz, 2009. "Making sense of the labor market height premium: Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 102(3), pages 174-176, March.
  6. Deaton, Angus & Arora, Raksha, 2009. "Life at the top: The benefits of height," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 133-136, July.
  7. In Utero, 2006. "Is the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Over? Long-Term Effects of In Utero Influenza Exposure in the Post-1940 U.S. Population," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 672-712, August.
  8. Chandola, Tarani & Bartley, Mel & Sacker, Amanda & Jenkinson, Crispin & Marmot, Michael, 2003. "Health selection in the Whitehall II study, UK," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(10), pages 2059-2072, May.
  9. James P. Smith, 2007. "The Impact of Socioeconomic Status on Health over the Life-Course," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(4).
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Gianmarco Leon, 2010. "Civil Conflict and Human Capital Accumulation: The Long Term Effects of Political Violence in Perú," Working Papers id:2505, eSocialSciences.
  2. Wei Huang & Xiaoyan Lei & Geert Ridder & John Strauss & Yaohui Zhao, 2012. "Health, Height, Height Shrinkage and SES at Older Ages: Evidence from China," Working Papers id:4900, eSocialSciences.
  3. Nicole Halmdienst & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2013. "Long-Run Effects of Childhood Shocks on Health in Late Adulthood: Evidence from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe," NRN working papers 2013-01, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  4. Tucker-Seeley, Reginald D. & Subramanian, S.V., 2011. "Childhood circumstances and height among older adults in the United States," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 194-202, March.
  5. Chang, Simon & Fleisher, Belton M. & Kim, Seonghoon & Liu, Shi-yung, 2011. "Long-term Effects of Early Childhood Malaria Exposure on Education and Health: Evidence from Colonial Taiwan," IZA Discussion Papers 5526, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Bacci, Silvia & Bartolucci, Francesco & Pieroni, Luca, 2012. "A causal analysis of mother’s education on birth inequalities," MPRA Paper 38754, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Owen O'Donnell & Eddy Van Doorslaer & Tom Van Ourti, 2013. "Health and Inequality," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-170/V, Tinbergen Institute.
  8. Jürges, Hendrik, 2013. "Bildungspolitik versus Gesundheitspolitik - Evidenzbasierte Interventionen gegen soziale Ungleichheit in Gesundheit," MEA discussion paper series 13275, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  9. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2010. "Causes And Consequences Of Early Life Health," Working Papers 1213, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  10. Michael Geruso, 2012. "Black-White Disparities in Life Expectancy: How Much Can the Standard SES Variables Explain?," Demography, Springer, vol. 49(2), pages 553-574, May.
  11. Eide, Eric R. & Showalter, Mark H., 2011. "Estimating the relation between health and education: What do we know and what do we need to know?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 778-791, October.
  12. Massimiliano Bratti & Mendola, M., 2013. "GINI DP 63: Parental Health and Child Schooling!," GINI Discussion Papers 63, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
  13. Dora Costa, 2013. "Health and the Economy in the United States, from 1750 to the Present," NBER Working Papers 19685, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. David W. Johnston & Wang-Sheng Lee, 2013. "Extra Status and Extra Stress: Are Promotions Good for Us?," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 66(1), pages 32-54, January.

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