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Socioeconomic Status and Health: Why is the Relationship Stronger for Older Children?

  • Janet Currie
  • Mark Stabile

Case, Lubotsky, and Paxson (2001) show that the well-known relationship between socio- economic status (SES) and health exists in childhood and grows more pronounced with age. However, in cross-sectional data it is difficult to distinguish between two possible explanations. The first is that low-SES children are less able to respond to a given health shock. The second is that low SES children experience more shocks. We show, using panel data on Canadian children that: 1) the gradient we estimate in the cross section is very similar to that estimated previously using U.S. children; 2) both high and low-SES children recover from past health shocks to about the same degree; and 3) that the relationship between SES and health grows stronger over time mainly because low-SES children receive more negative health shocks. In addition, we examine the effect of health shocks on math and reading scores. We find that health shocks affect test scores and future health in very similar ways. Our results suggest that public policy aimed at reducing SES-related health differentials in children should focus on reducing the incidence of health shocks as well as on reducing disparities in access to palliative care.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9098.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9098.

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Date of creation: Aug 2002
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Publication status: published as Currie, Janet and Mark Stabile. "Socioeconomic Status And Child Health: Why Is The Relationship Stronger For Older Children?," American Economic Review, 2003, v93(5,Dec), 1813-1823.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9098
Note: CH HC
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  1. Lori Curtis & Martin D. Dooley & Ellen L. Lipman & David H. Feeny, . "The Role of Permanent Income and Family Structure in the Determination of Child Health in the Ontario Child Health Study," Canadian International Labour Network Working Papers 16, McMaster University.
  2. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2001. "Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient," NBER Working Papers 8344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Angus Deaton, 1999. "Inequalities in Income and Inequalities in Health," NBER Working Papers 7141, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Smith, James P, 1998. "Socioeconomic Status and Health," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 192-96, May.
  5. Angus Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1999. "Mortality, Education, Income, and Inequality among American Cohorts," NBER Working Papers 7140, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Currie, Janet, 1995. " Socio-Economic Status and Child Health: Does Public Health Insurance Narrow the Gap?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 603-20, December.
  7. Lori J. Curtis & Martin D. Dooley & Ellen L. Lipman & David H. Feeny, 2001. "The role of permanent income and family structure in the determination of child health in Canada," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 287-302.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Ford, Graeme & Ecob, Russell & Hunt, Kate & Macintyre, Sally & West, Patrick, 1994. "Patterns of class inequality in health through the lifespan: Class gradients at 15, 35 and 55 years in the west of Scotland," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 39(8), pages 1037-1050, October.
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