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Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient

  • Anne Case
  • Darren Lubotsky
  • Christina Paxson

We show that the well-known positive association between health and income in adulthood has antecedents in childhood. Using the National Health Interview Surveys, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, we find that children's health is positively related to household income. The relationship between household income and children's health status becomes more pronounced as children grow older. A large component of the relationship between income and children's health can be explained by the arrival and impact of chronic health conditions in childhood. Children from lower-income households with chronic health conditions have worse health than do children from higher-income households. Further, we find that children's health is closely associated with long-run average household income, and that the adverse health effects of lower permanent income accumulate over children's lives. Part of the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status may work through the impact of parents' long run average income on children's health.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8344.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8344.

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Date of creation: Jun 2001
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Publication status: published as Case, Anne, Darren Lubotsky and Christina Paxson. "Economic Status And Health In Childhood: The Origins Of The Gradient," American Economic Review, 2002, v92(5,Dec), 1308-1334.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8344
Note: CH HC
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Janet Currie & Duncan Thomas, 1995. "Medical Care for Children: Public Insurance, Private Insurance, and Racial Differences in Utilization," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 135-162.
  2. James P. Smith, 1999. "Healthy Bodies and Thick Wallets: The Dual Relation between Health and Economic Status," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 145-166, Spring.
  3. 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.
  4. Victor R. Fuchs, 1982. "Time Preference and Health: An Exploratory Study," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Health, pages 93-120 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Janet Currie & Rosemary Hyson, 1999. "Is the Impact of Health Shocks Cushioned by Socioeconomic Status? The Case of Low Birthweight," NBER Working Papers 6999, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Currie, Janet & Gruber, Jonathan, 1996. "Health Insurance Eligibility, Utilization of Medical Care, and Child Health," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 431-66, May.
  7. 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.
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