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Reconstructing childhood health histories

  • James Smith


This paper provides evidence about the quality of retrospective childhood health histories given to respondents in the Health and Retirement Survey and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Even though information on early life health events is critical, there is legitimate skepticism about the ability of older respondents to remember specific health problems that they had as a child. The evidence presented in this paper suggests that this is too negative a view. Respondents appear to remember salient childhood events about themselves such as the illnesses they had as a child quite well. Moreover, these physical and psychological childhood health events are important correlates of adult health during middle age.

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Article provided by Springer & Population Association of America (PAA) in its journal Demography.

Volume (Year): 46 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 387-403

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Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:46:y:2009:i:2:p:387-403
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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..
  2. Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith & Arthur van Soest, 2005. "Self-reported Work Disability in the US and The Netherlands," Labor and Demography 0504006, EconWPA.
  3. James P Smith, 2008. "The Impact of Childhood Health on Adult Labor Market Outcomes," Working Papers 200814, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  4. Preston, Samuel H. & Hill, Mark E. & Drevenstedt, Greg L., 1998. "Childhood conditions that predict survival to advanced ages among African-Americans," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 47(9), pages 1231-1246, November.
  5. James P. Smith & Duncan Thomas, 2004. "Remembrances of Things Past: Test-Retest Reliability of Retrospective Migration Histories," Labor and Demography 0403026, EconWPA.
  6. James P. Smith, 2005. "The Impact Of Ses On Health Over The Life-Course," Labor and Demography 0511002, EconWPA.
  7. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2001. "Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient," NBER Working Papers 8344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith & Arthur van Soest, 2007. "Vignettes and Self-Reports of Work Disability in the United States and the Netherlands," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 461-473, March.
  9. Douglas Almond & Lena Edlund & Hongbin Li & Junsen Zhang, 2007. "Long-Term Effects Of The 1959-1961 China Famine: Mainland China and Hong Kong," NBER Working Papers 13384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Steven Haas, 2007. "The long-term effects of poor childhood health: An assessment and application of retrospective reports," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 44(1), pages 113-135, February.
  12. Janet Currie & Mark Stabile, 2003. "Socioeconomic Status and Child Health: Why Is the Relationship Stronger for Older Children?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1813-1823, December.
  13. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Blackwell, Debra L. & Hayward, Mark D. & Crimmins, Eileen M., 2001. "Does childhood health affect chronic morbidity in later life?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 52(8), pages 1269-1284, April.
  15. Douglas Almond & Kenneth Y. Chay & David S. Lee, 2004. "The Costs of Low Birth Weight," NBER Working Papers 10552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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