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Gradients of the Intergenerational Transmission of Health in Developing Countries

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  • Bhalotra S
  • Rawlings S

Abstract

This paper investigates the sensitivity of the intergenerational transmission of health to changes in education, income and public services. It uses individual survey data on 2.24 million children born to 600000 mothers during 1970-2000 in 38 developing countries. These data are merged with macroeconomic data by country and birth cohort to create an unprecedentedly large sample of comparable data that exhibits massive variation in maternal and child health as well as in aggregate economic conditions. Child health is indicated by infant survival. Our measure of maternal health is (relative) height, although we also investigate indicators of the health environment in the mother’s childhood as proxies for her health. This is more general and carries the advantage that these indicators are free of endowment effects. We find a substantial positive intergenerational correlation of health that is stronger at both tails of the distribution of mother’s height, and larger for negative deviations from mean height. We show that improving maternal education, raising income and improving the supply or effectiveness of public services in the child’s birth year limits the degree to which child health is tied to family circumstance. These results are robust to mother fixed effects that control for genetic and other endowments common across siblings. The interaction (gradient) effects are most marked for shorter women, consistent with their being constrained in the investments they are able to make in child health. We also find that income and the infectious disease environment in the mother’s birth year exhibit significant intergenerational spillover. There is some previous evidence that adult stature on the one hand and early childhood conditions on the other predict own life expectancy. Our finding that both mother’s height and conditions in her childhood predicts survival or life expectancy for offspring is an important extension of the evidence.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York in its series Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers with number 09/13.

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Date of creation: Jul 2009
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Handle: RePEc:yor:hectdg:09/13

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Postal: HEDG/HERC, Department of Economics and Related Studies, University of York, York, YO10 5DD, United Kingdom
Phone: (0)1904 323776
Fax: (0)1904 323759
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Web page: http://www.york.ac.uk/economics/postgrad/herc/hedg/
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Keywords: intergenerational; health; infant mortality; birth weight; height; SES; income; education.;

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References

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  1. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Returns to Birthweight," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 586-601, May.
  2. Christina Paxson & Norbert Schady, 2004. "Child Health and Economic Crisis in Peru," Working Papers 242, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  3. Bereket Kebede, 2004. "Genetic Endowments, Parental and Child Health in Rural Ethiopia," Development and Comp Systems 0409034, EconWPA.
  4. Angrist, Joshua D, 2001. "Estimations of Limited Dependent Variable Models with Dummy Endogenous Regressors: Simple Strategies for Empirical Practice," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 19(1), pages 2-16, January.
  5. Corak,Miles (ed.), 2004. "Generational Income Mobility in North America and Europe," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521827607.
  6. Carlos Bozzoli & Angus Deaton & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2007. "Child mortality, income and adult height," Working Papers 230, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  7. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall Far: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 437-449, March.
  8. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1986. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages S1-39, July.
  9. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson, 2006. "Disease and Development: The Effect of Life Expectancy on Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 12269, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Behrman, Jere R & Taubman, Paul, 1990. "The Intergenerational Correlation between Children's Adult Earnings and Their Parents' Income: Result from the Michigan Panel Survey of Income Dynamics," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 36(2), pages 115-27, June.
  11. Arnaud Chevalier, 2004. "Parental Education and Child’s Education - A Natural Experiment," Working Papers 200414, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  12. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-89, December.
  13. Nathan D. Grawe & Casey B. Mulligan, 2002. "Economic Interpretations of Intergenerational Correlations," NBER Working Papers 8948, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Lee, Lung-fei & Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Pitt, Mark M., 1997. "The effects of improved nutrition, sanitation, and water quality on child health in high-mortality populations," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 209-235, March.
  15. Douglas Almond & Kenneth Y. Chay & David S. Lee, 2005. "The Costs of Low Birth Weight," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 1031-1083, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Kenneth Harttgen & Stephan Klasen, 2012. "Analyzing Nutritional Impacts of Price and Income Related Shocks in Malawi and Uganda," Working Papers 2012-014, United Nations Development Programme, Regional Bureau for Africa (UNDP/RBA).
  2. Sonia Bhalotra & Thomas Pogge, 2012. "Ethical and Economic Perspectives on Global Health Interventions Abstract: Interventions that improve childhood health directly improve the quality of life and, in addition, have multiplier effects, p," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 12/286, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  3. Bhalotra, Sonia & Valente, Christine & van Soest, Arthur, 2010. "The puzzle of Muslim advantage in child survival in India," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 191-204, March.
  4. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J., 2011. "Recent Developments in Intergenerational Mobility," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
  5. Kenneth Harttgen & Stephan Klasen & Sebastian Vollmer, 2012. "Economic Growth and Child Undernutrition in Africa," Working Papers 2012-013, United Nations Development Programme, Regional Bureau for Africa (UNDP/RBA).
  6. Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Pogge, Thomas, 2012. "Ethical and Economic Perspectives on Global Health Interventions," IZA Policy Papers 38, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Abhishek Chakravarty, 2012. "Gender-discriminatory premarital investments, fertility preferences and breastfeeding in Egypt," Economics Discussion Papers 723, University of Essex, Department of Economics.

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