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Is the Child Health / Family Income Gradient Universal? Evidence from England

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Author Info

  • Currie, Alison

    (University of Melbourne)

  • Shields, Michael A.

    ()
    (Monash University)

  • Wheatley Price, Stephen

    ()
    (University of Leicester)

Abstract

In an influential study Case et al. (2002) documented a positive relationship between family income and child health in the US, with the slope of the gradient being larger for older than younger children. In this paper we explore the child health income gradient in England, which has a comprehensive publicly-funded National Health Service (NHS) founded on the twin principles of health care being free at the point of delivery and equality of access for the whole population. Our analysis is based on a sample of over 13,000 children (and their parents) drawn from the Health Survey for England. In accordance with Case et al. (2002), we find consistent and robust evidence of a significant family income gradient in child health using the subjective general health status measure. However, in England the size of the gradient is considerably smaller than that found for the US and we find no evidence that its slope increases with child age. We also provide new evidence that nutrition and family lifestyle choices have an important role in determining child health and that child health outcomes are highly correlated within the family. In addition, we find no evidence of an income gradient for objective indicators of child health, derived from nurse measurements and blood test results. Together our evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that the NHS has a protective effect on the health of children in England.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1328.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Health Economics, 2007, 26 (2), 213-232
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1328

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Keywords: lifestyle; child health; income gradient; chronic illness; nutrition;

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References

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  1. Paul Contoyannis & Andrew M. Jones & Nigel Rice, 2004. "The dynamics of health in the British Household Panel Survey," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4), pages 473-503.
  2. Adams, Peter & Hurd, Michael D. & McFadden, Daniel & Merrill, Angela & Ribeiro, Tiago, 2003. "Healthy, wealthy, and wise? Tests for direct causal paths between health and socioeconomic status," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 3-56, January.
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  4. Rosemary Hyson & Janet Currie, 1999. "Is the Impact of Health Shocks Cushioned by Socioeconomic Status? The Case of Low Birthweight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 245-250, May.
  5. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2002. "Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1308-1334, December.
  6. Jonathan Meer & Douglas L. Miller & Harvey S. Rosen, 2003. "Exploring the Health-Wealth Nexus," NBER Working Papers 9554, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Deaton, A., 1998. "Aging and Inequality in Income and Health," Papers, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies 181, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  8. Anne Case & Angela Fertig & Christina Paxson, 2004. "The Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance," Working Papers, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing. 246, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  9. Anne Case & Ingrid le Roux & Alicia Menendez, 2004. "Medical Compliance and Income-Health Gradients," Working Papers, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing. 252, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  10. James P. Smith, 1999. "Healthy Bodies and Thick Wallets: The Dual Relation between Health and Economic Status," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 145-166, Spring.
  11. Janet Currie & Mark Stabile, 2003. "Socioeconomic Status and Child Health: Why Is the Relationship Stronger for Older Children?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1813-1823, December.
  12. Propper, Carol, 2000. "The demand for private health care in the UK," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 855-876, November.
  13. Janet Currie, 2004. "Viewpoint: Child research comes of age," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 37(3), pages 509-527, August.
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