Children's Health and the Family

Linda N. Edwards, Michael Grossman

NBER Working Paper No. 256
Issued in July 1978
NBER Program(s):Health Economics

The objective of this paper is to define the relationship between a number of family characteristics and the health of white children aged 6 to 11 years residing in those families. The partial effects of family income on health are1l and seldom statistically significant. Indeed, some health problems -- high blood pressure, allergies, and tension -- are more likely to occur among children from high income families. The general finding of small partial income effects is supported by analysis of gross health differences between children from lower and higher income families. In those cases where significant gross health difference. do exist between children from these two income classes, decomposition of these gross differences shows them to be attributable in large part to factors other than income itself. The finding that differences in health related solely to income are smaller than commonly believed implies that policies to improve the well-being of children via income transfers, such as those advocated by the recent Carnegie Council on Children, would have, at best, very small effects on health. Indeed, the most important conclusion of our study is that the present tendency to base government child health programs on simplistic notions that income is the primary source of differences in children's health will not lead towards fruitful or successful public policy regarding children's health.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w0256

Published: Edwards, Linda N. and Michael Grossman. "Children's Health and the Family." Advances in Health Economics and Health Services Research, edited by Richard M. Schettler, Vol. 2, Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press. (1981), pp. 35-84.

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