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Child health: evidence on the roles of family income and maternal mental health from a UK birth cohort

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  • Carol Propper

    (Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion, London School of Economics and Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK)

  • John Rigg

    (Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion, London School of Economics, University of Bristol, UK)

  • Simon Burgess

    (Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion, London School of Economics and Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK)

Abstract

There is a growing literature showing an association between higher family income and better child health. This paper uses cohort data with rich information on mother's early life events, her health, child-health-related behaviours, and her child's health to examine this association for the UK and to identify some of the mechanisms through which income affects child health. The paper examines the cross-sectional association between income and health, finds the expected association, but concludes that the association with current income cannot be distinguished from one between permanent income and child health. It then focuses on the mechanisms by which income translates into better child health; these include parental behaviours that may affect child health and parental health, including maternal mental health. Controlling for these factors, there is almost no direct impact of income. A significant role is played by mother's own health, particularly her mental health. No clear role is played by child-health production behaviours of the mother. Examining the maternal mental health-child health link in more detail suggests a role for maternal anxiety and somaticism. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Carol Propper & John Rigg & Simon Burgess, 2007. "Child health: evidence on the roles of family income and maternal mental health from a UK birth cohort," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(11), pages 1245-1269.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:16:y:2007:i:11:p:1245-1269
    DOI: 10.1002/hec.1221
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Simon Burgess & Carol Propper & John A. Rigg, 2004. "The Impact of Low Income on Child Health: Evidence from a Birth Cohort Study," CASE Papers 085, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    2. Ellen Meara, 2001. "Why is Health Related to Socioeconomic Status?," NBER Working Papers 8231, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. 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.
    4. Paul Gregg & Elizabeth Washbrook, 2003. "The Effects of Early Maternal Employment on Child Development in the UK," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 03/070, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    5. Grossman, Michael, 2000. "The human capital model," Handbook of Health Economics,in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 347-408 Elsevier.
    6. Rosemary Hyson & Janet Currie, 1999. "Is the Impact of Health Shocks Cushioned by Socioeconomic Status? The Case of Low Birthweight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 245-250, May.
    7. Peter Adams & Michael D. Hurd & Daniel L. McFadden & Angela Merrill & Tiago Ribeiro, 2004. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise? Tests for Direct Causal Paths between Health and Socioeconomic Status," NBER Chapters,in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 415-526 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    11. 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.
    12. Currie, Alison & Shields, Michael A. & Wheatley Price, Stephen, 2004. "Is the Child Health / Family Income Gradient Universal? Evidence from England," IZA Discussion Papers 1328, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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