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Economic status and health in childhood: the origins of the gradient

  • Anne Case

    (Princeton University)

  • Darren Lubotsky

    (Princeton University)

  • Christina Paxson

    (Princeton University)

That wealthy people live longer and have lower morbidity, on average, than do poor people has been well documented across countries, within countries at a point in time, and over time with economic growth. The positive correlation between income and health is not limited to the bottom end of the income distribution (Adler et al 1994). Indeed, the gradient in health status—the phenomenon that relatively wealthier people have better health and longevity—is evident throughout the income distribution. In this paper we present evidence that the income gradients observed in adult health have antecedents in childhood, and suggest that 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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Paper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing. in its series Working Papers with number 262.

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Date of creation: Feb 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper
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  1. 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.
  2. Currie, J. & Thomas, D., 1995. "Medical Care for Children, Public Insurance, Private Insurance, and Racial Differences in Utilization," Papers 95-08, RAND - Reprint Series.
  3. Janet Currie & Jonathan Gruber, 1995. "Health Insurance Eligibility, Utilization of Medical care, and Child Health," NBER Working Papers 5052, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
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