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The Impact of Parental Income and Education on the Health of their Children


  • Doyle, Orla
  • Harmon, Colm
  • Walker, Ian


This paper investigates the robustness of recent findings on the effect of parental background on child health. We are particularly concerned with the extent to which their finding that income effects on child health are the result of spurious correlation rather than some causal mechanism. A similar argument can be made for the effect of education - if parental education and child health are correlated with some common unobservable (say, low parental time preference) then least squares estimates of the effect of parental education will be biased upwards. Moreover, it is very common for parental income data to be grouped, in which case income is measured with error and the coefficient on income will be biased towards zero and there are good reasons why the extent of bias may vary with child age. Fixed effect estimation is undermined by measurement error and here we adopt the traditional solution to both spurious correlation and measurement error and use an instrumental variables approach. Our results suggest that the income effects observed in the data are spurious.

Suggested Citation

  • Doyle, Orla & Harmon, Colm & Walker, Ian, 2005. "The Impact of Parental Income and Education on the Health of their Children," CEPR Discussion Papers 5359, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5359

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Eriksson, Tor & Bratsberg, Bernt & Raaum, Oddbjørn, 2005. "Earnings persistence across generations: Transmission through health?," Memorandum 35/2005, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    2. Albouy, Valerie & Lequien, Laurent, 2009. "Does compulsory education lower mortality?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 155-168, January.
    3. Maciej Bukowski & Sonia Buchholtz & Piotr Lewandowski & Pawel Chrostek & Agnieszka Kaminska & Maciej Lis & Monika Potoczna & Michal Myck & Michal Kundera & Monika Oczkowska, 2013. "Employment in Poland 2011. Poverty and Jobs," Books and Reports published by IBS, Instytut Badan Strukturalnych, number zwp2011 edited by Maciej Bukowski & Iga Magda, September.
      • Magda, Iga & Bukowski, Maciej & Buchholz, Sonia & Lewandowski, Piotr & Chrostek, Paweł & Kamińska, Agnieszka & Lis, Maciej & Potoczna, Monika & Myck, Michał & Kundera, Michał & Oczkowska, Monika, 2013. "Employment in Poland 2011 - Poverty and jobs," MPRA Paper 50185, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Løken, Katrine V., 2010. "Family income and children's education: Using the Norwegian oil boom as a natural experiment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 118-129, January.
    5. Orla Doyle & Colm Harmon & Ian Walker, 2007. "The Impact of Parental Income and Education on Child Health. Further Evidence for England," Working Papers 200706, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    6. Lindeboom, Maarten & Llena-Nozal, Ana & van der Klaauw, Bas, 2009. "Parental education and child health: Evidence from a schooling reform," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 109-131, January.
    7. Braakmann, Nils, 2011. "The causal relationship between education, health and health related behaviour: Evidence from a natural experiment in England," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 753-763, July.
    8. Violato, Mara & Petrou, Stavros & Gray, Ron, 2009. "The relationship between household income and childhood respiratory health in the United Kingdom," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(6), pages 955-963, September.
    9. Doyle, Orla & Harmon, Colm P. & Walker, Ian, 2005. "The Impact of Parental Income and Education on the Health of their Children," IZA Discussion Papers 1832, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. V. Albouy & L. Lequien, 2007. "Education and health," Documents de Travail de la DESE - Working Papers of the DESE g2007-02, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques, DESE.
    11. Alyssa Schneebaum & Bernhard Rumplmaier & Wilfried Altzinger, 2015. "Gender in intergenerational educational persistence across time and place," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 42(2), pages 413-445, May.

    More about this item


    child health; intergenerational transmission;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

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