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Child physical development in the UK: The imprint of time and socioeconomic status

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  • Bénédicte Apouey

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement)

Abstract

Objectives. Social health inequalities remain a key policy challenge. The existing literature has not presented a synthetic view on the evolution of inequalities in physical development across childhood. We examine social disparities as children grow older using a range of different outcomes. Study design. Population-based secondary data analysis. Methods. We employ longitudinal data on British children ages 9 months to 12 years from the Millennium Cohort Study (N=13,811-18,987) and focus on multiple child physical measures: weight, BMI, overweight, fat mass, and waist circumference. Results. Higher family income is associated with lower BMI (for females), less body fat, and a smaller likelihood of overweight (for both genders) on average throughout childhood. When income is multiplied by three, the probability of overweight decreases by 2.8 (95% CI -0.041 to -0.016) percentage points for females and by 2.7 (95% CI -0.038 to -0.016) percentage points for males. Social inequalities in weight, BMI, overweight, and body fat significantly widen as children grow older, for both genders. For instance, for females, when income is multiplied by three, the probability of overweight decreases by 1.6 (95% CI -0.032 to -0.000) percentage points at ages 2-3, but by 8.6 (95% CI -0.112 to -0.060) percentage points at ages 10-12. Conclusions. The trajectory of social inequalities, which may reflect the cumulative effect of family socioeconomic status, is a precursor of inequalities in adulthood.

Suggested Citation

  • Bénédicte Apouey, 2016. "Child physical development in the UK: The imprint of time and socioeconomic status," PSE Working Papers halshs-01364464, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-01364464
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01364464v2
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Apouey, Bénédicte & Geoffard, Pierre-Yves, 2013. "Family income and child health in the UK," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 715-727.
    2. Carol Propper & John Rigg & Simon Burgess, 2007. "Child health: evidence on the roles of family income and maternal mental health from a UK birth cohort," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(11), pages 1245-1269.
    3. Case, Anne & Paxson, Christina & Vogl, Tom, 2007. "Socioeconomic status and health in childhood: A comment on Chen, Martin and Matthews, "Socioeconomic status and health: Do gradients differ within childhood and adolescence?" (62:9, 2006, 21," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(4), pages 757-761, February.
    4. Murasko, Jason E., 2009. "Socioeconomic status, height, and obesity in children," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 376-386, December.
    5. Murasko, Jason E., 2013. "Associations between household income, height, and BMI in contemporary US schoolchildren," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 185-196.
    6. West, Patrick, 1997. "Health inequalities in the early years: Is there equalisation in youth?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 44(6), pages 833-858, March.
    7. Kuehnle, Daniel, 2014. "The causal effect of family income on child health in the UK," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 137-150.
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    Cited by:

    1. Qi, Di & Wu, Yichao, 2020. "Family’s social economic status and child educational outcomes in China: The mediating effects of parenting practices and children’s learning attitudes," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 118(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Physical Development; Child; Longitudinal Studies; Inequalities; Socioeconomic Status;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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