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The Effects of Childhood Health on Adult Health and SES in China

  • James P. Smith
  • Yan Shen
  • John Strauss
  • Zhe Yang
  • Yaohui Zhao

In this paper, the authors model the consequences of childhood health on adult health and socioeconomic status outcomes in China using a new sample of middle aged and older Chinese respondents. Modeled after the American Health and Retirement Survey (HRS), the CHARLS Pilot survey respondents are forty-five years and older in two quite distinct provinces- Zhejiang, a high growth industrialized province on the East Coast and Gansu, a largely agricultural and poor province in the West. Childhood health in CHARLS relies on two measures that proxy for different dimensions of health during the childhood years. The first is a retrospective self-evaluation using a standard five-point scale (excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor) of general state of one's health when one was less than 16 years old. The second is adult height often thought to be a good measure of levels of nutrition during early childhood and the prenatal period. They relate both these childhood health measures to adult health and SES outcomes during the adult years. They find strong effects of childhood health on adult health outcomes particularly among Chinese women and strong effects on adult BMI particularly for Chinese men.

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Paper provided by RAND Corporation Publications Department in its series Working Papers with number 809.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:809
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  1. James P. Smith & John Strauss & Xiaoyan Lei & Albert Park & Yan Shen & James P. Smith & Zhe Yang & Yaohui Zhao, 2010. "Health Outcomes and Socio-Economic Status Among the Elderly in China: Evidence from the CHARLS Pilot," Working Papers 774, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  2. Liam Delaney & Mark McGovern & James P. Smith, 2009. "From Angela's Ashes to the Celtic Tiger: Early Life Conditions and Adult Health in Ireland," Working Papers 200943, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  3. 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, 04.
  4. 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.
  5. Philip Oreopoulos & Mark Stabile & Randy Walld & Leslie L. Roos, 2008. "Short-, Medium-, and Long-Term Consequences of Poor Infant Health: An Analysis Using Siblings and Twins," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(1).
  6. Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Stature and the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1903-1940, December.
  7. Currie, Alison & Shields, Michael A. & Wheatley Price, Stephen, 2004. "Is the Child Health / Family Income Gradient Universal? Evidence from England," IZA Discussion Papers 1328, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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