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The Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance

  • Anne Case

    (Princeton University)

  • Angela Fertig

    (Princeton University)

  • Christina Paxson

    (Princeton University)

We quantify the lasting effects of childhood health and economic circumstances on adult health, employment and socioeconomic status, using data from a birth cohort that has been followed from birth into middle age. Controlling for parental income, education and social class, children who experience poor health have significantly lower educational attainment, poorer health, and lower social status as adults. Childhood health and circumstance appear to operate both through their impact on initial adult health and economic status, and through a continuing direct effect of prenatal and childhood health in middle age. Overall, our findings suggest more attention be paid to health as a potential mechanism through which intergenerational transmission of economic status 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.

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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 246.

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Date of creation: Apr 2004
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Handle: RePEc:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_impact_childhood_health
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  1. Case, Anne & Paxson, Christina, 2001. "Mothers and others: who invests in children's health?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 301-328, May.
  2. Anne C. Case & Christina Paxson, 2004. "Sex Differences in Morbidity and Mortality," NBER Working Papers 10653, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Chandola, Tarani & Bartley, Mel & Sacker, Amanda & Jenkinson, Crispin & Marmot, Michael, 2003. "Health selection in the Whitehall II study, UK," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(10), pages 2059-2072, May.
  4. Janet Currie & Brigitte C. Madrian, 1998. "Health, Health Insurance and the Labor Market," JCPR Working Papers 27, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  5. Paul Gregg & Stephen Machin, 1998. "Child Development and Success or Failure in the Youth Labour Market," CEP Discussion Papers dp0397, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  6. Stephen Wu, 2003. "The Effects of Health Events on the Economic Status of Married Couples," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(1).
  7. Anne C. Case & Angus Deaton, 2003. "Broken Down by Work and Sex: How Our Health Declines," NBER Working Papers 9821, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. James P. Smith, 2003. "Consequences and Predictors of New Health Events," NBER Working Papers 10063, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. Adams, Peter & Hurd, Michael D. & McFadden, Daniel & Merrill, Angela & Ribeiro, Tiago, 2003. "Healthy, wealthy, and wise? Tests for direct causal paths between health and socioeconomic status," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 3-56, January.
  11. 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.
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