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Inequality of opportunities in health in France: a first pass


  • Alain Trannoy
  • Sandy Tubeuf
  • Florence Jusot
  • Marion Devaux


This article analyses the role played by childhood circumstances, especially social and family background in explaining health status among older adults. We explore the hypothesis of an intergenerational transmission of health inequalities using the French part of SHARE. As the impact of both social background and parents' health on health status in adulthood represents circumstances independent of individual responsibility, this study allows us testing the existence in France of inequalities of opportunity in health related to family and social background. Empirically, our study relies on tests of stochastic dominance at first order and multivariate regressions, supplemented by a counterfactual analysis to evaluate the long-lasting impact of childhood conditions on inequality in health. Allocating the best circumstances in both parents' socioeconomic status and parents' health reduces inequality in health by an impressive 57% using the Gini coefficient. The mother's social status has a direct effect on the health of her offspring. By contrast, the effect on descendant's health from their father's social status is indirect only, which goes through the descendant's social status as an adult. There is also a strong effect of the father vital status on health in adulthood, revealing a selection effect. Copyright (C) 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:19:y:2010:i:8:p:921-938

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. François Bourguignon & Francisco H. G. Ferreira & Marta Menéndez, 2007. "Inequality Of Opportunity In Brazil," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 53(4), pages 585-618, December.
    3. 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.
    4. Grossman, Michael, 1982. "The demand for health after a decade," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 1-3, May.
    5. Ahlburg, Dennis, 1998. "Intergenerational Transmission of Health," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 265-270, May.
    6. 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.
    7. Eddy van Doorslaer & Xander Koolman, 2004. "Explaining the differences in income-related health inequalities across European countries," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(7), pages 609-628.
    8. Andrew E. Clark & Augustin Vicard, 2007. "Conditions de collecte et santé subjective : une analyse sur données européennes," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 403(1), pages 143-163.
    9. Francisco H. G. Ferreira & Jérémie Gignoux, 2011. "The Measurement Of Inequality Of Opportunity: Theory And An Application To Latin America," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 57(4), pages 622-657, December.
    10. Michael Grossman, 1972. "The Demand for Health: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gros72-1, January.
    11. Gourieroux, Christian & Monfort, Alain & Renault, Eric & Trognon, Alain, 1987. "Generalised residuals," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 5-32.
    12. Pedro Rosa Dias & Andrew M. Jones, 2007. "Giving equality of opportunity a fair innings," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(2), pages 109-112.
    13. 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.
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    More about this item


    stochastic dominance ; equality of opportunity ; inequality in health ; intergenerational transmission ; older adults ; Gini index ;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I19 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Other
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior


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