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From Cradle to Grave? The Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance

Author

Listed:
  • Anne Case
  • Angela Fertig
  • Christina Paxson

Abstract

We quantify the lasting effects of childhood health and economic circumstances on adult health and earnings, using data from a birth cohort that has been followed from birth into middle age. We find, controlling for parents' incomes, educations and social status, that children who experience poor health have significantly lower educational attainment, and significantly poorer health and lower earnings on average as adults. Childhood factors appear to operate largely through their effects on educational attainment and initial adult health. Taken together with earlier findings that poorer children enter adulthood in worse health and with less education than wealthier children, these results indicate that a key determinant of health in adulthood is economic status in childhood rather than economic status in adulthood. Overall, our findings suggest more attention be paid to health as a potential mechanism through which intergenerational transmission of poverty takes place: cohort members born into poorer families experienced poorer childhood health, lower investments in human capital and poorer health in early adulthood, all of which are associated with lower earnings in middle age -- the years in which they themselves become parents.

Suggested Citation

  • Anne Case & Angela Fertig & Christina Paxson, 2003. "From Cradle to Grave? The Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance," NBER Working Papers 9788, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9788
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Anne Case, 2004. "Does Money Protect Health Status? Evidence from South African Pensions," NBER Chapters,in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 287-312 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Anne Case & Angus Deaton, 2002. "Consumption, health, gender and poverty," Working Papers 261, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
    3. repec:pri:rpdevs:case_money_protect_nber is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:pri:cheawb:case_money_protect_nber.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Janet Currie & Mark Stabile, 2002. "Socioeconomic Status and Health: Why is the Relationship Stronger for Older Children?," NBER Working Papers 9098, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Kuh, D. J. L. & Wadsworth, M. E. J., 1993. "Physical health status at 36 years in a British national birth cohort," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 905-916, October.
    11. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2002. "Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1308-1334, December.
    12. repec:pri:cheawb:case_deaton_consumption_health_gender is not listed on IDEAS
    13. repec:pri:cheawb:case_money_protect_nber is not listed on IDEAS
    14. repec:pri:cheawb:case_deaton_consumption_health_gender.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    15. repec:pri:rpdevs:case_deaton_consumption_health_gender is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Ana Llena-Nozal & Maarten Lindeboom & France Portrait, 2004. "The effect of work on mental health: does occupation matter?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(10), pages 1045-1062.
    2. Komlos, John & Baur, Marieluise, 2004. "From the tallest to (one of) the fattest: the enigmatic fate of the American population in the 20th century," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 57-74, March.
    3. Randall M. Packard, 2009. ""Roll Back Malaria, Roll in Development"? Reassessing the Economic Burden of Malaria," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 35(1), pages 53-87.
    4. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1019-1053, October.
    5. Maarten Lindeboom & France Portrait & Gerard J. van den Berg, 2003. "Individual Mortality and Macro Economic Conditions from Birth to Death," CEIS Research Paper 42, Tor Vergata University, CEIS.
    6. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2001. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height, Third Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 04-013, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 15 Mar 2004.
    7. Mayer-Foulkes, David., 2013. "The Cognitive Transition in Mexico: Economic Geography and Local Governance Impacts," Panorama Económico, Escuela Superior de Economía, Instituto Politécnico Nacional, vol. 0(16), pages 7-27, primer se.
    8. Patricia Medrano & Catherine Rodríguez & Edgar Villa, 2008. "Does Mother'S Education Matter In Child'S Health? Evidence From South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 76(4), pages 612-627, December.
    9. David Mayer-Foulkes & Grodecz Alfredo Ramírez Fuentes, 2011. "Ciclo de vida humano y ciclo de vida urbano: Urbanización y desarrollo económico," Working papers DTE 503, CIDE, División de Economía.
    10. Oded Galor & David Mayer-Foulkes, 2004. "Food for Thought: Basic Needs and Persistent Educational Inequality," GE, Growth, Math methods 0410002, EconWPA.
    11. Joan Costa-i-Font & Mireia Jofre-Bonet & Julian Le Grand, 2015. "Vertical Transmission of Overweight: Evidence from English Adoptees," CESifo Working Paper Series 5351, CESifo Group Munich.
    12. Elovainio, Marko & Pulkki-Råback, Laura & Jokela, Markus & Kivimäki, Mika & Hintsanen, Mirka & Hintsa, Taina & Viikari, Jorma & Raitakari, Olli T. & Keltikangas-Järvinen, Liisa, 2012. "Socioeconomic status and the development of depressive symptoms from childhood to adulthood: A longitudinal analysis across 27 years of follow-up in the Young Finns study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(6), pages 923-929.
    13. Jens Ludwig & Douglas L. Miller, 2007. "Does Head Start Improve Children's Life Chances? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 159-208.
    14. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Lindeboom, Maarten & Lopez, Marta, 2009. "Inequality in individual mortality and economic conditions earlier in life," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(9), pages 1360-1367, November.
    15. Armando Barrientos & Jocelyn DeJong, 2006. "Reducing Child Poverty with Cash Transfers: A Sure Thing?," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 24(5), pages 537-552, September.
    16. Mayer-Foulkes David A. & Pescetto-Villouta Claudia, 2012. "Economic Development and Non-Communicable Chronic Diseases," Global Economy Journal, De Gruyter, vol. 12(4), pages 1-44, December.
    17. Yusuf, Shahid & Nabeshima, Kaoru & Wei Ha, 2007. "What makes cities healthy ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4107, The World Bank.
    18. MacInnis, Bo, 2004. "Pesticides And Child Health: Evidence From Hispanic Children In The U.S," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 20184, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    19. Costa-Font, J. & Jofre-Bonet, M. & Le Grand, J., 2016. "Vertical Transmission of Overweight: Evidence from English Adoptees," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 15/05, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    20. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Gupta, Sumedha, 2015. "The role of marriage in the causal pathway from economic conditions early in life to mortality," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 141-158.
    21. Jian Huang & Henriëtte Maassen van den Brink & Wim Groot, 2012. "Does education promote social capital? Evidence from IV analysis and nonparametric-bound analysis," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 1011-1034, June.
    22. Aslam, Monazza & Kingdon, Geeta Gandhi, 2012. "Parental Education and Child Health—Understanding the Pathways of Impact in Pakistan," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(10), pages 2014-2032.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior

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