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Gradients of the Intergenerational Transmission of Health in Developing Countries

  • Bhalotra, Sonia R.


    (University of Essex)

  • Rawlings, Samantha


    (University of Reading)

This paper investigates the sensitivity of the intergenerational transmission of health to exogenous changes in income, education and public health, changes that are often delivered by economic growth. It uses individual survey data on 2.24 million children born to 600000 mothers during 1970-2000 in 38 developing countries. These data are merged with macroeconomic data by country and birth cohort to create an unprecedentedly large sample of comparable data that exhibit massive variation in maternal and child health as well as in aggregate economic conditions. The country-level panel is exploited to control for aggregate shocks and trends in unobservables within countries, while a panel of children within mother is exploited to control for family-specific endowments and neighbourhood characteristics. Child health is indicated by infant survival and maternal health by (relative) height. We find that improvements in maternal education, income and public health provision that occur in the year of birth and the year before birth limit the degree to which child health is tied to family circumstance. The interaction (gradient) effects are, in general, most marked for shorter women suggesting that children are more likely to bear the penalty exerted by poor maternal health if they are conceived or born in adverse socio-economic conditions.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4353.

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Length: 57 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Review of Economics and Statistics, 2013, 95 (2), 660 - 672
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4353
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  1. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1986. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages S1-39, July.
  2. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2003. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall Far: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," IZA Discussion Papers 926, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Bereket Kebede, 2003. "Genetic Endowments, Parental and Child Health in Rural Ethiopia," CSAE Working Paper Series 2003-10, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  4. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Returns to Birthweight," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 586-601, May.
  5. Carlos Bozzoli & Angus S. Deaton & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2007. "Child Mortality, Income and Adult Height," NBER Working Papers 12966, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-89, December.
  7. Arnaud Chevalier, 2004. "Parental education and child’s education : a natural experiment," Working Papers 200414, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  8. Lee, Lung-fei & Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Pitt, Mark M., 1997. "The effects of improved nutrition, sanitation, and water quality on child health in high-mortality populations," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 209-235, March.
  9. Behrman, Jere R & Taubman, Paul, 1990. "The Intergenerational Correlation between Children's Adult Earnings and Their Parents' Income: Result from the Michigan Panel Survey of Income Dynamics," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 36(2), pages 115-27, June.
  10. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson, 2007. "Disease and Development: The Effect of Life Expectancy on Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(6), pages 925-985, December.
  11. repec:oup:qjecon:v:120:y:2005:i:3:p:1031-1083 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Joshua Angrist, 1999. "Estimation of Limited-Dependent Variable Models with Dummy Endogenous Regressors: Simple Strategies for Empirical Practice," Working papers 99-31, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  13. Nathan D. Grawe & Casey B. Mulligan, 2002. "Economic Interpretations of Intergenerational Correlations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 45-58, Summer.
  14. Christina Paxson & Norbert Schady, 2005. "Child Health and Economic Crisis in Peru," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 19(2), pages 203-223.
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