IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/jhecon/v35y2014icp132-146.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Genetic mechanisms in the intergenerational transmission of health

Author

Listed:
  • Thompson, Owen

Abstract

This paper uses a sample of adoptees to study the genetic mechanisms underlying intergenerational associations in chronic health conditions. I begin by estimating baseline intergenerational models with a sample of approximately 125,000 parent–child pairs, and find that children with a parent who has a specific chronic health condition are at least 100% more likely to have the same condition themselves. To assess the role of genetic mechanisms in generating these strong correlations, I estimate models using a sample of approximately 2400 adoptees, and find that genetic transmission accounts for only 20–30% of the baseline associations. As falsification tests, I repeat this exercise using health measures with externally established levels of genetic determination (height and chicken pox), and the results suggest that comparisons of biological and adopted children are a valid method of isolating genetic effects in this sample. Finally, to corroborate these adoptee-based estimates, I examine health correlations among monozygotic twins, which provide an upper bound estimate of genetic influences, and find a similarly modest role for genetic transmission. I conclude that intergenerational health transmission is an important hindrance to overall socioeconomic mobility, but that the majority of transmission occurs through environmental factors or gene–environment interactions, leaving scope for interventions to effectively mitigate health persistence.

Suggested Citation

  • Thompson, Owen, 2014. "Genetic mechanisms in the intergenerational transmission of health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 132-146.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:35:y:2014:i:c:p:132-146
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2014.02.003
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167629614000253
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. James P. Smith, 2009. "The Impact of Childhood Health on Adult Labor Market Outcomes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(3), pages 478-489, August.
    2. Heather Royer, 2009. "Separated at Girth: US Twin Estimates of the Effects of Birth Weight," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 49-85, January.
    3. Helena Holmlund & Mikael Lindahl & Erik Plug, 2011. "The Causal Effect of Parents' Schooling on Children's Schooling: A Comparison of Estimation Methods," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(3), pages 615-651, September.
    4. Maria L. Loureiro & Anna Sanz-de-Galdeano & Daniela Vuri, 2009. "Smoking Habits: Like Father, Like Son, Like Mother, Like Daughter," CESifo Working Paper Series 2782, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Anders Björklund & Mikael Lindahl & Erik Plug, 2006. "The Origins of Intergenerational Associations: Lessons from Swedish Adoption Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 999-1028.
    6. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J., 2011. "Recent Developments in Intergenerational Mobility," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 16, pages 1487-1541, Elsevier.
    7. Gerard J. van den Berg & Maarten Lindeboom & France Portrait, 2006. "Economic Conditions Early in Life and Individual Mortality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 290-302, March.
    8. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Susanne M. Schennach, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 883-931, May.
    9. Almond, Douglas & Currie, Janet, 2011. "Human Capital Development before Age Five," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 15, pages 1315-1486, Elsevier.
    10. Haoming Liu & Jinli Zeng, 2009. "Genetic ability and intergenerational earnings mobility," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(1), pages 75-95, January.
    11. Meer, Jonathan & Miller, Douglas L. & Rosen, Harvey S., 2003. "Exploring the health-wealth nexus," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 713-730, September.
    12. James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 31-47, May.
    13. Solon, Gary, 1999. "Intergenerational mobility in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 29, pages 1761-1800, Elsevier.
    14. 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.
    15. Bhalotra, Sonia & Rawlings, Samantha B., 2011. "Intergenerational persistence in health in developing countries: The penalty of gender inequality?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(3-4), pages 286-299, April.
    16. Alain Trannoy & Sandy Tubeuf & Florence Jusot & Marion Devaux, 2010. "Inequality of opportunities in health in France: a first pass," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(8), pages 921-938, August.
    17. Maria L. Loureiro & Anna Sanz-de-Galdeano & Daniela Vuri, 2010. "Smoking Habits: Like Father, Like Son, Like Mother, Like Daughter?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 72(6), pages 717-743, December.
    18. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Atheendar S. Venkataramani, 2011. "The intergenerational transmission of height: evidence from rural Vietnam," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(12), pages 1448-1467, December.
    20. Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "The Nature and Nurture of Economic Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 344-348, May.
    21. 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.
    22. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2003. "The Impact of Air Pollution on Infant Mortality: Evidence from Geographic Variation in Pollution Shocks Induced by a Recession," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1121-1167.
    23. Hjalmarsson, Randi & Lindquist, Matthew J., 2013. "The origins of intergenerational associations in crime: Lessons from Swedish adoption data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 68-81.
    24. Ettner, Susan L., 1996. "New evidence on the relationship between income and health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 67-85, February.
    25. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    26. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2007. "Biology as Destiny? Short- and Long-Run Determinants of Intergenerational Transmission of Birth Weight," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 231-264.
    27. Coneus, Katja & Spiess, C. Katharina, 2012. "The intergenerational transmission of health in early childhood—Evidence from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 89-97.
    28. Silja Göhlmann & Christoph M. Schmidt & Harald Tauchmann, 2010. "Smoking initiation in Germany: the role of intergenerational transmission," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(2), pages 227-242.
    29. Ahlburg, Dennis, 1998. "Intergenerational Transmission of Health," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 265-270, May.
    30. Erik Plug, 2004. "Estimating the Effect of Mother's Schooling on Children's Schooling Using a Sample of Adoptees," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 358-368, March.
    31. Das, Mitali & Sjogren, Tanja, 2002. "The inter-generational link in income mobility: evidence from adoptions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 55-60, March.
    32. Helena Holmlund & Mikael Lindahl & Erik Plug, 2010. "The Causal Effect of Parents' Schooling on Children's Schooling - A Comparison of Estimation Methods," CESifo Working Paper Series 3234, CESifo Group Munich.
    33. Classen, Timothy J., 2010. "Measures of the intergenerational transmission of body mass index between mothers and their children in the United States, 1981-2004," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 30-43, March.
    34. Kim, Younoh & Sikoki, Bondan & Strauss, John & Witoelar, Firman, 2015. "Intergenerational correlations of health among older adults: Empirical evidence from Indonesia," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 6(C), pages 44-56.
    35. 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.
    36. David M. Cutler & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2006. "Education and Health: Evaluating Theories and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 12352, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    37. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 3-33, February.
    38. Case, Anne & Fertig, Angela & Paxson, Christina, 2005. "The lasting impact of childhood health and circumstance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 365-389, March.
    39. repec:dau:papers:123456789/268 is not listed on IDEAS
    40. James P. Smith, 1999. "Healthy Bodies and Thick Wallets: The Dual Relation between Health and Economic Status," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 145-166, Spring.
    41. Duncan, Greg J. & Katz, Lawrence F. & Kessler, Ronald & Kling, Jeffrey R. & Gennetian, Lisa & Adam, Emma & Ludwig, Jens & Sanbonmatsu, Lisa & Tessler, Stacy & McDade, Thomas W. & Whitaker, Robert C., 2011. "Neighborhoods, Obesity and Diabetes –-- A Randomized Social Experiment," Scholarly Articles 8642951, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Jason Fletcher & Katie M. Jajtner, 2019. "Intergenerational Health Mobility: Magnitudes and Importance of Schools and Place," NBER Working Papers 26442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Wolfgang Frimmel & Martin Halla & Jörg Paetzold, 2019. "The Intergenerational Causal Effect of Tax Evasion: Evidence from the Commuter Tax Allowance in Austria," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 17(6), pages 1843-1880.
    3. Kim, Younoh & Sikoki, Bondan & Strauss, John & Witoelar, Firman, 2015. "Intergenerational correlations of health among older adults: Empirical evidence from Indonesia," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 6(C), pages 44-56.
    4. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Dahmann, Sarah C. & Salamanca, Nicolas & Zhu, Anna, 2017. "Intergenerational Disadvantage: Learning about Equal Opportunity from Social Assistance Receipt," IZA Discussion Papers 11070, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Andreella, Claudia & Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese & Westphal, Matthias, 2015. "The long shadows of past insults intergenerational transmission of health over 130 years," Ruhr Economic Papers 571, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    6. Björkegren, Evelina & Lindahl, Mikael & Palme, Mårten & Simeonova, Emilia, 2019. "Pre- and Post-Birth Components of Intergenerational Persistence in Health and Longevity: Lessons from a Large Sample of Adoptees," IZA Discussion Papers 12451, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Huong Thu Le & Ha Trong Nguyen, 2018. "The Impact of Maternal Mental Health Shocks on Child Health: Estimates from Fixed-Effects Instrumental Variables Models for Two Cohorts of Australian Children," American Journal of Health Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(2), pages 185-225, Spring.
    8. Huong Thu Le & Ha Trong Nguyen, 2015. "Intergenerational Transmission in Health: Causal estimates from fixed effects instrumental variables models for two cohorts of Australian children," Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre Working Paper series WP1509, Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School.
    9. Classen, Timothy J. & Thompson, Owen, 2016. "Genes and the intergenerational transmission of BMI and obesity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 121-133.
    10. Petter Lundborg & Martin Nordin & Dan Olof Rooth, 2018. "The intergenerational transmission of human capital: the role of skills and health," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 31(4), pages 1035-1065, October.
    11. Eyal, Katherine & Burns, Justine, 2019. "The parent trap: Cash transfers and the intergenerational transmission of depressive symptoms in South Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 211-229.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health transmission; Genetics; Adoptees;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:35:y:2014:i:c:p:132-146. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.