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The Intergenerational Transmission of Health in Early Childhood

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  • Katja Coneus
  • C. Katharina Spieß

Abstract

The prevalence and importance of children's physical health problems have been increasingly recognized in recent years. Physical health problems of children such as obesity, motor impairment and chronic diseases cause social costs. Further, they can lead directly to adult physical health problems, which cause additional social costs. This paper examines the intergenerational link and transmission of both maternal and paternal health on children's health in Germany. We investigate this issue using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), making particular use of the mother and child questionnaires. These data allow us to capture a broad set ofhealth measures: anthropometric, self-rated health and "more objective" health measures. The results indicate significant relationships between parental and child health in the first and third year of life. In order to take into account the endogeneity of parental health, we estimate fixed effect models. Overall, we find, controlling for parental income, education and family composition, that parents who experience poor health have children with significantly poorer health. For example, the father's bodymass index (BMI) is a predictor for their children's BMI. Mothers who consider their health as good, have also healthier children.

Suggested Citation

  • Katja Coneus & C. Katharina Spieß, 2008. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Health in Early Childhood," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 126, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp126
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Martin Salm & Daniel Schunk, 2008. "The role of childhood health for the intergenerational transmission of human capital: Evidence from administrative data," MEA discussion paper series 08164, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
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    7. Annalena Dunkelberg & C. Katharina Spieß, 2007. "The Impact of Child and Maternal Health Indicators on Female Labor Force Participation after Childbirth: Evidence from Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 7, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
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    Cited by:

    1. Thomas Siedler & Jürgen Schupp & C. Katharina Spiess & Gert G. Wagner, 2008. "The German Socio-Economic Panel as Reference Data Set," Working Paper Series of the German Council for Social and Economic Data 48, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD).
    2. Pfeiffer, Friedhelm, 2009. "Entwicklung und Ungleichheit von Fähigkeiten: Anmerkungen aus ökonomischer Sicht," ZEW Discussion Papers 09-025, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    3. Grégory Ponthière, 2010. "Mortality, family and lifestyles," Working Papers halshs-00564898, HAL.
    4. Gregory Ponthiere, 2011. "Mortality, Family and Lifestyles," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 175-190, June.
    5. Gregory Ponthiere, 2011. "Mortality, Family and Lifestyles," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 175-190, June.
    6. Johnston, David W. & Schurer, Stefanie & Shields, Michael A., 2011. "Evidence on the Long Shadow of Poor Mental Health across Three Generations," IZA Discussion Papers 6014, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Coneus, Katja & Spieß, Christa Katharina, 2010. "Pollution exposure and infant health: Evidence from Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 10-079, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    8. Daniel Kemptner & Jan Marcus, 2011. "Spillover Effects of Maternal Education on Child's Health and Schooling," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 375, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Intergenerational transmission; child health; parental health; early childhood;

    JEL classification:

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