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Socioeconomic status and child health: what is the role of health care, health conditions, injuries and maternal health?

Listed author(s):
  • Allin, Sara
  • Stabile, Mark

There is a persistent relationship between socioeconomic status and health that appears to have its roots in childhood. Not only do children in families with lower income and with mothers with lower levels of education have worse health on average than those with greater socioeconomic advantage, but also the gradient appears to steepen with age. This study contributes to the literature on the relationship between socioeconomic status and child health by testing the hypothesis that the increasing effect of family income on children's health with age relates to the children's use of health care services. It also investigates the role of specific health conditions, injuries or maternal health in explaining the steepening gradient. Drawing on a nationally representative survey from Canada, the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth from the period 1994/95–2008/09, this study provides further evidence of a steepening socioeconomic gradient in child health with age. It finds that accounting for health care use does not explain the steepening gradient and that the protective effect of income appears to be greater for those who had contact with the health system, in particular with regard to physician care and prescription drug use.

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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal Health Economics, Policy and Law.

Volume (Year): 7 (2012)
Issue (Month): 02 (April)
Pages: 227-242

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Handle: RePEc:cup:hecopl:v:7:y:2012:i:02:p:227-242_00
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