Understanding the SES Gradient in Health Among the Elderly: The Role of Childhood Circumstances
Individuals' socioeconomic status (SES) is positively correlated with their health status. While the existence of this gradient may be uncontroversial, the same cannot be said about its explanation. In this paper, we extend the approach of testing for the absence of causal channels developed by Adams et al. (2003), which in a Granger causality sense promises insights on the causal structure of the health-SES nexus. We introduce some methodological refinements and integrate retrospective survey data on early childhood circumstances into this framework. We confirm that childhood health has lasting predictive power for adult health. We also uncover strong gender differences in the intertemporal transmission of SES and health: While the link between SES and functional as well as mental health among men appears to be established rather late in life, the gradient among women seems to originate from childhood circumstances.
Financial support was provided by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), grant No. P01 AG 005842.
I have read the research disclosure policy. My funding sources are as follows: the E. Morris Cox fund at the University of California, Berkeley, the Presidential fund at USC, the Schaeffer Center for Health Economics and Policy at USC, and National Institute on Aging (NIA) grants No. P01 AG005842 to the NBER and No. RC4 AG039036 to USC. I have no financial conflicts of interest.