IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this book chapter

Understanding the SES Gradient in Health Among the Elderly: The Role of Childhood Circumstances

In: Discoveries in the Economics of Aging

  • Till Stowasser
  • Florian Heiss
  • Daniel McFadden
  • Joachim Winter

Individuals’ socioeconomic status (SES) is positively correlated with their health status. While the existence of this gradient may be uncontroversial, the same cannot be said about its explanation. In this paper, we extend the approach of testing for the absence of causal channels developed by Adams et al. (2003), which in a Granger causality sense promises insights on the causal structure of the health-SES nexus. We introduce some methodological refinements and integrate retrospective survey data on early childhood circumstances into this framework. We confirm that childhood health has lasting predictive power for adult health. We also uncover strong gender differences in the intertemporal transmission of SES and health: While the link between SES and functional as well as mental health among men appears to be established rather late in life, the gradient among women seems to originate from childhood circumstances.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

in new window

This chapter was published in:
  • David A. Wise, 2014. "Discoveries in the Economics of Aging," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number wise13-1, September.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12976.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12976
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Janet Currie, 2009. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Socioeconomic Status, Poor Health in Childhood, and Human Capital Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(1), pages 87-122, March.
    2. Angus Deaton, 2010. "Instruments, Randomization, and Learning about Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 424-55, June.
    3. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_height_health_and_cognitive_function is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2008. "Height, Health and Cognitive Function at Older Ages," Working Papers 1127, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
    5. Kesternich, Iris & Siflinger, Bettina & Smith, James P. & Winter, Joachim K., 2012. "The Effects of World War II on Economic and Health Outcomes across Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 6296, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Mazzonna, Fabrizio, 2011. "The long-lasting effects of family background: A European cross-country comparison," MEA discussion paper series 11245, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    7. James P. Smith & Yan Shen & John Strauss & Yang Zhe & Yaohui Zhao, 2012. "The Effects of Childhood Health on Adult Health and SES in China," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(1), pages 127 - 156.
    8. Adams, Peter & Hurd, Michael D. & McFadden, Daniel & Merrill, Angela & Ribeiro, Tiago, 2003. "Healthy, wealthy, and wise? Tests for direct causal paths between health and socioeconomic status," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 3-56, January.
    9. 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.
    10. Stowasser, Till & Heiss, Florian & McFadden, Daniel & Winter, Joachim, 2014. ""Healthy, wealthy, and wise?" revisited: An analysis of the causal pathways from socio-economic status to health," Discussion Papers in Economics 20846, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    11. repec:pri:rpdevs:deaton_instruments_randomization_learning_all_04april_2010 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. 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..
    13. Berney, L. R. & Blane, D. B., 1997. "Collecting retrospective data: Accuracy of recall after 50 years judged against historical records," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 45(10), pages 1519-1525, November.
    14. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper is not listed on IDEAS
    15. repec:pri:rpdevs:case_paxson_height_health_and_cognitive_function is not listed on IDEAS
    16. 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 223-55, March-Apr.
    17. Berger, Lawrence M. & Paxson, Christina & Waldfogel, Jane, 2009. "Income and child development," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(9), pages 978-989, September.
    18. Florian Heiss, 2011. "Dynamics of self-rated health and selective mortality," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 119-140, February.
    19. repec:ran:wpaper:809 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12976. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.