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

In: Discoveries in the Economics of Aging

Listed author(s):
  • 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.

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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, June.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12976.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12976
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    1. Angus Deaton, 2010. "Instruments, Randomization, and Learning about Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 424-455, June.
    2. repec:ran:wpaper:809 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Till Stowasser & Florian Heiss & Daniel McFadden & Joachim Winter, 2011. ""Healthy, Wealthy and Wise?" Revisited: An Analysis of the Causal Pathways from Socioeconomic Status to Health," NBER Chapters,in: Investigations in the Economics of Aging, pages 267-317 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Florian Heiss, 2011. "Dynamics of self-rated health and selective mortality," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 119-140, February.
    5. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Mazzonna, Fabrizio, 2014. "The long-lasting effects of family background: A European cross-country comparison," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 25-42.
    7. 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.
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    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. repec:pri:rpdevs:deaton_instruments_randomization_learning_all_04april_2010 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. 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.
    14. Iris Kesternich & Bettina Siflinger & James P. Smith & Joachim K. Winter, 2014. "The Effects of World War II on Economic and Health Outcomes across Europe," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(1), pages 103-118, March.
    15. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_height_health_and_cognitive_function is not listed on IDEAS
    16. repec:pri:rpdevs:case_paxson_height_health_and_cognitive_function is not listed on IDEAS
    17. 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.
    18. 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.
    19. 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.
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