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The intergenerational transmission of health in early childhood—Evidence from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study

  • Coneus, Katja
  • Spiess, C. Katharina

Children's physical health problems have clear and lasting impacts on a variety of later life outcomes, as a growing body of research has shown. Furthermore, problems such as obesity, motor impairment, and chronic diseases entail high social costs, particularly when childhood health problems carry over into adulthood. This study examines intergenerational relationships between parent and child health based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), in particular the recently introduced Mother and Child Questionnaires. Using various health measures, including anthropometric measures, information on health disorders, and “self-rated” health measures, we find significant relationships between parental and child health during the first three years of life. Overall, our results suggest that when controlling for parental income, education, and family composition, parents with poor health are more likely to have children with poor health. However, there are significant differences between health measures and age groups. For some health measures, our results suggest an increasing health gradient by age.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics & Human Biology.

Volume (Year): 10 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 89-97

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:10:y:2012:i:1:p:89-97
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  1. Anne Case & Angela Fertig & Christina Paxson, 2004. "The Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance," Working Papers 246, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
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  3. Duncan Thomas, 1994. "Like Father, like Son; Like Mother, like Daughter: Parental Resources and Child Height," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(4), pages 950-988.
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  13. Janet Currie, 2008. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Socioeconomic Status, Poor Health in Childhood, and Human Capital Development," NBER Working Papers 13987, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Bereket Kebede, 2003. "Genetic Endowments, Parental and Child Health in Rural Ethiopia," CSAE Working Paper Series 2003-10, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  15. Doyle, Orla & Harmon, Colm P. & Heckman, James J. & Tremblay, Richard E., 2009. "Investing in early human development: Timing and economic efficiency," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 1-6, March.
  16. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
  17. Bruce Sacerdote, 2007. "How Large are the Effects from Changes in Family Environment? A Study of Korean American Adoptees," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 119-157.
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