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Causes And Consequences Of Early-Life Health

Author

Listed:
  • ANNE CASE

    (Princeton University)

  • CHRISTINA PAXSON

    (Princeton University)

Abstract

We examine the consequences of child health for economic and health outcomes in adulthood, using height as a marker of childhood health. After reviewing previous evidence, we present a conceptual framework that highlights data limitations and methodological problems that complicate the study of this topic. We then present estimates of the associations between height and a range of outcomes -- including schooling, employment, earnings, health, and cognitive ability -- measured in five data sets from early to late adulthood. These results indicate that, on average, taller individuals attain higher levels of education. Height is also positively associated with better economic, health, and cognitive outcomes. These associations are only partially explained by the higher average educational attainment of taller individuals. We then use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 Children and Young Adults survey to document the associations between health, cognitive development, and growth in childhood. Even among children with the same mother, taller siblings score better on cognitive tests and progress through school more quickly. Part of the differences found between siblings arises from differences in their birth weights and lengths attributable to mother's behaviors while pregnant. Taken together, these results support the hypothesis that childhood health influences health and economic status throughout adulthood.

Suggested Citation

  • Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2011. "Causes And Consequences Of Early-Life Health," Working Papers 1287, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  • Handle: RePEc:pri:cheawb:january2011-2
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. James P. Smith, 2009. "The Impact of Childhood Health on Adult Labor Market Outcomes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(3), pages 478-489, August.
    2. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 409-439.
    3. repec:pri:rpdevs:w14007%20case%20paxson%20and%20islam is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2008. "Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(3), pages 499-532, June.
    5. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Returns to Birthweight," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 586-601, May.
    6. In Utero, 2006. "Is the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Over? Long-Term Effects of In Utero Influenza Exposure in the Post-1940 U.S. Population," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 672-712, August.
    7. 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.
    8. John A. Maluccio & John Hoddinott & Jere R. Behrman & Reynaldo Martorell & Agnes R. Quisumbing & Aryeh D. Stein, 2009. "The Impact of Improving Nutrition During Early Childhood on Education among Guatemalan Adults," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(537), pages 734-763, April.
    9. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2011. "The Long Reach of Childhood Health and Circumstance: Evidence from the Whitehall II Study," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(554), pages 183-204, August.
    10. Case, Anne & Paxson, Christina & Islam, Mahnaz, 2009. "Making sense of the labor market height premium: Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 102(3), pages 174-176, March.
    11. repec:pri:cheawb:w14007%20case%20paxson%20and%20islam.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Case, Anne & Fertig, Angela & Paxson, Christina, 2005. "The lasting impact of childhood health and circumstance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 365-389, March.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. Janet Currie, 2009. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Socioeconomic Status, Poor Health in Childhood, and Human Capital Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(1), pages 87-122, March.
    16. repec:pri:cheawb:w14007%20case%20paxson%20and%20islam is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Stature and the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1903-1940, December.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    child health for economic and health outcomes; associations between height and a range of outcomes including schooling; employment; earnings; health; and cognitive ability;

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household

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