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Associations between household income, height, and BMI in contemporary US schoolchildren

  • Murasko, Jason E.

This paper evaluates the association between income and physical development in a nationally representative sample of contemporary US schoolchildren followed from kindergarten to eighth grade (average ages of 6–14). A generalized linear mixed modeling framework is used to evaluate height and body mass index (BMI) as both levels and annualized growth in a pooled sample. Contemporary US schoolchildren show income variation in height that is significant but modest at around .1cm (in kindergarten) to .4cm (eighth grade) increases per doubling of income. An exception is found for Hispanic children who show faster height velocity associated with higher income through childhood yielding a 1.0cm increase per doubling of income by the eighth grade. All groups except black males show a negative relationship between income and BMI that becomes stronger with age with an average .8kg/m2 lower BMI per doubling of income by the eighth grade. These results are robust to the inclusion of baseline anthropometric controls. The analysis suggests that higher-income US schoolchildren enter mid-adolescence as taller but with lower proportional body mass relative to their lower-income counterparts.

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

Volume (Year): 11 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 185-196

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:11:y:2013:i:2:p:185-196
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964

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  1. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2006. "Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 12466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Charles L. Baum II & Christopher J. Ruhm, 2007. "Age, Socioeconomic Status and Obesity Growth," NBER Working Papers 13289, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2002. "Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1308-1334, December.
  4. Sophia Rabe-Hesketh & Anders Skrondal, 2006. "Multilevel modelling of complex survey data," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 169(4), pages 805-827.
  5. 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.
  6. Currie, Alison & Shields, Michael A. & Price, Stephen Wheatley, 2007. "The child health/family income gradient: Evidence from England," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 213-232, March.
  7. 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.
  8. Sophia Rabe-Hesketh & Anders Skrondal & Andrew Pickles, 2002. "Reliable estimation of generalized linear mixed models using adaptive quadrature," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 2(1), pages 1-21, February.
  9. Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Stature and the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1903-1940, December.
  10. Komlos, John, 2010. "The recent decline in the height of African-American women," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 58-66, March.
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