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The Intergenerational Transmission of Health in Early Childhood

  • Katja Coneus
  • C. Katharina Spieß

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.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.88605.de/diw_sp0126.pdf
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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 126.

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Length: 38 p.
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp126
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  1. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2000. "Mothers and Others: Who Invests in Children's Health?," Working Papers 277, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  2. James J. Heckman, 2007. "The Economics, Technology and Neuroscience of Human Capability Formation," NBER Working Papers 13195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Johannes Schwarze & Hanfried H. Andersen & Silke Anger, 2000. "Self-Rated Health and Changes in Self-Rated Health as Predictors of Mortality: First Evidence from German Panel Data," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 203, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  4. Weili Ding & Steven F. Lehrer & J. Niels Rosenquist & Janet Audrain-McGovern, 2006. "The Impact of Poor Health on Education: New Evidence Using Genetic Markers," NBER Working Papers 12304, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Goode, Alison & Mavromaras, Kostas G. & Smith, Murray, 2008. "Intergenerational Transmission of Healthy Eating Behaviour and the Role of Household Income," IZA Discussion Papers 3535, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Currie, Janet & Neidell, Matthew, 2004. "Air Pollution and Infant Health: What Can We Learn From California's Recent Experience?," IZA Discussion Papers 1056, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2003. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall Far: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 10066, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Bereket Kebede, 2003. "Genetic Endowments, Parental and Child Health in Rural Ethiopia," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2003-10, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  9. Rosemary Hyson & Janet Currie, 1999. "Is the Impact of Health Shocks Cushioned by Socioeconomic Status? The Case of Low Birthweight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 245-250, May.
  10. 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..
  11. Michael Baker & Mark Stabile & Catherine Deri, 2001. "What do Self-Reported, Objective, Measures of Health Measure?," NBER Working Papers 8419, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Currie, Janet & Stabile, Mark, 2006. "Child mental health and human capital accumulation: The case of ADHD," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 1094-1118, November.
  14. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2002. "Economic status and health in childhood: the origins of the gradient," Working Papers 262, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  15. Janet Currie & Mark Stabile, 2003. "Socioeconomic Status and Child Health: Why Is the Relationship Stronger for Older Children?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1813-1823, December.
  16. Ahlburg, Dennis, 1998. "Intergenerational Transmission of Health," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 265-70, May.
  17. Anne Case & Diana Lee & Christina Paxson, 2007. "The Income Gradient In Children'S Health: A Comment On Currie, Shields And Wheatley Price," Working Papers 1005, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  18. John Cawley & Richard V. Burkhauser, 2006. "Beyond BMI: The Value of More Accurate Measures of Fatness and Obesity in Social Science Research," NBER Working Papers 12291, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2005. "Biology as Destiny? Short and Long-Run Determinants of Intergenerational Transmission of Birth Weight," NBER Working Papers 11567, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Salm, Martin & Schunk, Daniel, 2008. "The Role of Childhood Health for the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital: Evidence from Administrative Data," IZA Discussion Papers 3646, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  21. Cawley, John & Spiess, C. Katharina, 2008. "Obesity and skill attainment in early childhood," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 388-397, December.
  22. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
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