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Family and Community Influences on Health and Socioeconomic Status: Sibling Correlations Over the Life Course

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  • Mazumder Bhashkar

    () (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)

Abstract

This paper presents new estimates of sibling correlations in health and socioeconomic outcomes over the life course in the U.S. Sibling correlations provide an omnibus measure of the importance of all family and community influences. I find that sibling correlations in a range of health and socioeconomic outcomes start quite high at birth and remain high over the life course. The sibling correlation in birth weight is estimated to be 0.5. Sibling correlations in test scores during childhood are as high as 0.6. Sibling correlations in adult men’s wages are also around 0.5. Decompositions provide suggestive evidence on which pathways may account for the gradients in health and SES by family background. For example, sibling correlations in cognitive skills and non-cognitive skills during childhood are lower controlling for family income. Similarly, parent education levels can account for a sizable portion of the correlation in adult health status among brothers.

Suggested Citation

  • Mazumder Bhashkar, 2011. "Family and Community Influences on Health and Socioeconomic Status: Sibling Correlations Over the Life Course," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(3), pages 1-23, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:11:y:2011:i:3:n:1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marianne E. Page & Gary Solon, 2003. "Correlations between Brothers and Neighboring Boys in Their Adult Earnings: The Importance of Being Urban," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(4), pages 831-856, October.
    2. Oddbjørn Raaum & Kjell G. Salvanes & Erik O. Sørensen, 2006. "The Neighbourhood is Not What it Used to be," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(508), pages 200-222, January.
    3. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2008. "Sibling similarities and economic inequality in the US," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 21(3), pages 685-701, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Emran, M. Shahe & Shilpi, Forhad, 2015. "Gender, Geography, and Generations: Intergenerational Educational Mobility in Post-Reform India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 362-380.
    2. Schnitzlein, Daniel D., 2014. "How Important Is the Family? Evidence from Sibling Correlations in Permanent Earnings in the USA, Germany, and Denmark," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 69-89.
    3. Jones, Sam, 2016. "How does classroom composition affect learning outcomes in Ugandan primary schools?," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 66-78.
    4. Silke Anger & Daniel D. Schnitzlein, 2017. "Cognitive skills, non-cognitive skills, and family background: evidence from sibling correlations," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(2), pages 591-620, April.
    5. Karin Hederos Eriksson & Randi Hjalmarsson & Matthew J. Lindquist & Anna Sandberg, 2016. "The importance of family background and neighborhood effects as determinants of crime," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(1), pages 219-262, January.
    6. Schoeni Robert F. & Buchmueller Thomas C. & Freedman Vicki A., 2011. "Socioeconomic Status and Health Over the Life Course and Across Generations: Introduction to a Special Issue and Overview of a Unique Data Resource," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(3), pages 1-10, December.
    7. Björklund, Anders & Jäntti, Markus, 2012. "How important is family background for labor-economic outcomes?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 465-474.

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