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The impact of childhood sickness on adult socioeconomic outcomes: Evidence from late 19th century America

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  • Warren, John Robert
  • Knies, Laurie
  • Haas, Steven
  • Hernandez, Elaine M.

Abstract

We use family fixed-effects models to estimate the impact of childhood health on adult literacy, labor force outcomes, and marital status among pairs of white brothers observed as children in the 1880 U.S. Census and then as adults in the 1900–1930 Censuses. Given our focus on the 19th century, we observed a wider array of infectious, chronic, and traumatic health problems than is observed using data that are more recent; our results thus provide some insights into circumstances in modern developing countries where similar health problems are more frequently observed. Compared to their healthy siblings, sick brothers were less likely to be located (and thus more likely to be dead) 20–50 years after their 1880 enumeration. Sick brothers were also less likely to be literate, to have ever been married, and to have reported an occupation. However, among those with occupations, sick and healthy brothers tended to do similar kinds of work. We discuss the implications of our results for research on the impact of childhood health on socioeconomic outcomes in developed and developing countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Warren, John Robert & Knies, Laurie & Haas, Steven & Hernandez, Elaine M., 2012. "The impact of childhood sickness on adult socioeconomic outcomes: Evidence from late 19th century America," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(8), pages 1531-1538.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:8:p:1531-1538 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.06.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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