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Does childhood health affect chronic morbidity in later life?

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  • Blackwell, Debra L.
  • Hayward, Mark D.
  • Crimmins, Eileen M.
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    Abstract

    Our analysis examines whether childhood health has long-term and enduring consequences for chronic morbidity. As a part of this analysis, we address two methodological issues of concern in the literature. Is adult height a surrogate for childhood health experiences in modeling chronic disease in later life? And, are the effects of adult socioeconomic status on chronic disease overestimated when childhood health is not accounted for? The analysis is based on a topical module to the third wave of the Health and Retirement Study, a representative survey of Americans aged 55-65 in 1996. Our results support the hypothesis that poor childhood health increases morbidity in later life. This association was found for cancer, lung disease, cardiovascular conditions, and arthritis/rheumatism. The associations were highly persistent in the face of statistical controls for both adult and childhood socioeconomic status. No support was found for using adult height as a proxy for the effects of childhood health experiences. Further, the effects of adult socioeconomic status were not overestimated when childhood health was excluded from the explanatory models. Our results point to the importance of an integrated health care policy based on the premise of maximizing health over the entire life cycle.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 52 (2001)
    Issue (Month): 8 (April)
    Pages: 1269-1284

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:52:y:2001:i:8:p:1269-1284

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    Related research

    Keywords: Childhood health Socioeconomic status Adult health Health and retirement study USA;

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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. James P. Smith, 2009. "Re-Constructing Childhood Health Histories," Working Papers 666, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
    2. Brandt, Martina & Deindl, Christian & Hank, Karsten, 2012. "Tracing the origins of successful aging: The role of childhood conditions and social inequality in explaining later life health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(9), pages 1418-1425.
    3. Gurven, Michael, 2012. "Infant and fetal mortality among a high fertility and mortality population in the Bolivian Amazon," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(12), pages 2493-2502.
    4. Morton, Patricia M. & Mustillo, Sarah A. & Ferraro, Kenneth F., 2014. "Does childhood misfortune raise the risk of acute myocardial infarction in adulthood?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 133-141.
    5. Samir KC & Harold Lentzner, 2010. "The effect of education on adult mortality and disability: a global perspective," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 8(1), pages 201-235.
    6. Zeljko, Hrvojka Marija & Škarić-Jurić, Tatjana & Narančić, Nina Smolej & Barešić, Ana & Tomas, Željka & Petranović, Matea Zajc & Miličić, Jasna & Salihović, Marijana Peričić & Janićijev, 2013. "Age trends in prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in Roma minority population of Croatia," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 326-336.
    7. Steckel, Richard H., 2009. "Heights and human welfare: Recent developments and new directions," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-23, January.
    8. Akachi, Yoko & Canning, David, 2010. "Health trends in Sub-Saharan Africa: Conflicting evidence from infant mortality rates and adult heights," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 273-288, July.
    9. Janet Currie, 2009. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Socioeconomic Status, Poor Health in Childhood, and Human Capital Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(1), pages 87-122, March.
    10. 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.
    11. Yoko Akachi & David Canning, 2007. "The Height of Women in Sub-Saharan Africa: the Role of Health, Nutrition, and Income in Childhood," PGDA Working Papers 2207, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
    12. Jennifer Montez & Mark Hayward, 2014. "Cumulative Childhood Adversity, Educational Attainment, and Active Life Expectancy Among U.S. Adults," Demography, Springer, vol. 51(2), pages 413-435, April.
    13. Schaan, Barbara, 2014. "The interaction of family background and personal education on depressive symptoms in later life," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 94-102.
    14. Jayanta Sarkar & Dipanwita Sarkar, 2012. "Why does child labour persist with declining poverty?," NCER Working Paper Series 84, National Centre for Econometric Research, revised 21 Nov 2012.
    15. Bauldry, Shawn, 2014. "Conditional health-related benefits of higher education: An assessment of compensatory versus accumulative mechanisms," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 94-100.
    16. Yoko Akachi & David Canning, 2008. "The Mortality and Morbidity Transitions in Sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from Adult Heights," PGDA Working Papers 3308, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.

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