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Parental income and child health in Germany


  • Steffen Reinhold
  • Hendrik Jürges


We use newly available data from Germany to study the relationship between parental income and child health. We find a strong gradient between parental income and subjective child health as has been documented earlier in the US, Canada and the UK. The relationship in Germany is about as strong in the US and stronger than in the UK. However, in contrast to US results, we do not find that the disadvantages associated with low parental income accumulate as the child ages, nor that children from low socioeconomic background are more likely to suffer from ‘objectively measured’ health problems – except for obesity. There is some evidence, however, that high income children are better able to cope with the adverse consequences of chronic conditions. Finally, we do not find that child health (except for low birth weight) plays a major role in the explanation of educational attainment once parental income and education are controlled for.
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Suggested Citation

  • Steffen Reinhold & Hendrik Jürges, 2012. "Parental income and child health in Germany," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(5), pages 562-579, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:21:y:2012:i:5:p:562-579

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael Baker & Mark Stabile & Catherine Deri, 2004. "What Do Self-Reported, Objective, Measures of Health Measure?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(4).
    2. Deaton, Angus, 1995. "Data and econometric tools for development analysis," Handbook of Development Economics,in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 33, pages 1785-1882 Elsevier.
    3. Diba, Behzad T. & Grossman, Herschel I., 1988. "Rational inflationary bubbles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 35-46, January.
    4. Stephen Wu, 2003. "The Effects of Health Events on the Economic Status of Married Couples," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(1).
    5. John Rust & Christopher Phelan, 1997. "How Social Security and Medicare Affect Retirement Behavior in a World of Incomplete Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 781-832, July.
    6. Halliday, Timothy J., 2007. "Income Volatility and Health," IZA Discussion Papers 3234, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. 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.
    8. Gronau, Reuben, 1980. "Home Production-A Forgotten Industry," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(3), pages 408-416, August.
    9. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-255, March-Apr.
    10. John Bound, 1991. "Self-Reported Versus Objective Measures of Health in Retirement Models," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(1), pages 106-138.
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    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth


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