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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
    DOI: 10.2202/1935-1682.2876
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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 and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 69-89.
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    Cited by:

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    2. Elisabeth Bügelmayer & Daniel D. Schnitzlein, 2018. "Is it the family or the neighborhood? Evidence from sibling and neighbor correlations in youth education and health," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 16(3), pages 369-388, September.
    3. Timothy J. Halliday & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2017. "An Analysis of Sibling Correlations in Health using Latent Variable Models," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(12), pages 108-125, December.
    4. Björklund, Anders & Jäntti, Markus, 2012. "How important is family background for labor-economic outcomes?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 465-474.
    5. 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 and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 69-89.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. Paul Anand & Jere R. Behrman & Hai?Anh H. Dang & Sam Jones, 2019. "Does sorting matter for learning inequality?: Evidence from East Africa," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2019-110, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    10. Emily Oster, 2013. "Unobservable Selection and Coefficient Stability: Theory and Validation," NBER Working Papers 19054, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Evelina Björkegren & Mikael Lindahl & Mårten Palme & Emilia Simeonova, 2022. "Pre- and Post-Birth Components of Intergenerational Persistence in Health and Longevity: Lessons from a Large Sample of Adoptees," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 57(1), pages 112-142.
    12. 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.
    13. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2018. "Intergenerational Mobility in the United States: What We Have Learned from the PSID," The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, , vol. 680(1), pages 213-234, November.
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    15. Carsten Andersen, 2021. "Intergenerational health mobility: Evidence from Danish registers," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(12), pages 3186-3202, December.

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