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The Long Reach of Childhood Health and Circumstance: Evidence from the Whitehall II Study

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  • Anne Case
  • Christina Paxson

Abstract

We use data from the Whitehall II study to examine the potential role played by early-life health and circumstances in determining health and employment status in middle and older ages. The population from which the Whitehall II cohort was drawn consisted almost exclusively of white collar civil servants. We demonstrate that estimates of the impact of early-life conditions based on the Whitehall II cohort provide a lower bound on the effect of early-life circumstances on adult health and economic status for the population as a whole. That said, using the Whitehall II cohort data, we find early life circumstances are all predictive of entry grade and promotion to higher grade in Whitehall. Even with controls for entry grade or current grade, we find that childhood circumstances predict cohort members' current health status. Using fixed effect and first-difference models of self-assessed health status and civil service employment grade, we find no evidence of civil service grade affecting future self-assessed health. However, we find self-assessed health has a significant effect on future civil service grade.
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Suggested Citation

  • Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2011. "The Long Reach of Childhood Health and Circumstance: Evidence from the Whitehall II Study," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(554), pages 183-204, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:121:y:2011:i:554:p:f183-f204
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 409-439.
    2. Chandola, Tarani & Bartley, Mel & Sacker, Amanda & Jenkinson, Crispin & Marmot, Michael, 2003. "Health selection in the Whitehall II study, UK," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(10), pages 2059-2072, May.
    3. Case, Anne & Paxson, Christina & Islam, Mahnaz, 2009. "Making sense of the labor market height premium: Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 102(3), pages 174-176, March.
    4. repec:pri:rpdevs:case_and_paxson_early_life_health_w15637 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:pri:cheawb:case_and_paxson_early_life_health_w15637 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2010. "Causes and consequences of early-life health," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 47(1), pages 65-85, March.
    7. Janet Currie, 2009. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Socioeconomic Status, Poor Health in Childhood, and Human Capital Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(1), pages 87-122, March.
    8. repec:pri:cheawb:case_and_paxson_early_life_health_w15637.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    9. James P. Smith, 2007. "The Impact of Socioeconomic Status on Health over the Life-Course," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(4).
    10. Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2009. "Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 8769.
    11. In Utero, 2006. "Is the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Over? Long-Term Effects of In Utero Influenza Exposure in the Post-1940 U.S. Population," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 672-712, August.
    12. Deaton, Angus & Arora, Raksha, 2009. "Life at the top: The benefits of height," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 133-136, July.
    13. repec:ucn:wpaper:10197/317 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Case, Anne & Paxson, Christina, 2001. "Mothers and others: who invests in children's health?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 301-328, May.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets

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