Educational, Labor-market and Intergenerational Consequences of Poor Childhood Health
We study whether childhood health capital affects school attendance, long-run occupational outcomes, and intergenerational mobility. We address this question in the context of London, England during the late-nineteenth century using the inpatient admission records of three large hospitals linked to population census records, from which we identify household characteristics and the patients’ siblings. Sibling fixed effects estimates indicate that boys with health deficiencies were 14.9 percent less likely to work in white collar occupations as adults and 13.9 percent more likely to experience downward occupational mobility relative to their fathers, in comparison to their brothers. This negative effect offsets 16.2 percent of the benefit of having a father in a high status occupation. We also explore medium-run mechanisms for both boys and girls, and find that poor childhood health reduced the likelihood of attending school by 2.5 and 4.1 percent, respectively.
We are grateful to Dr. Sue Hawkins for providing access to data from the Historical Hospital Admission Records Project (HHARP), and to Hardish Bindra at Paradigm Data Services for coordinating the transcription of the admission records from St. Bartholomew’s and Guy’s Hospitals. Wray is indebted to his dissertation committee members Joel Mokyr (chair), Joseph Ferrie, and David Dranove for encouragement and guidance. We also thank David N. Figlio, Guillermo Marshall, Werner Troesken, seminar participants at Emory University, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Hitotsubashi University, the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), Northwestern University, and the University of Southern Denmark, conference participants at the World Congress of Cliometrics, the European Historical Economics Society, the Economic History Association, the Social Science History Association, the H2D2 Research Day at the University of Michigan, the NBER Children’s Meeting, and the Public Health and Development Workshop at the University of Gothenburg for helpful comments and suggestions. Wray appreciates financial support from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science KAKENHI Young Scientists B Grant Number J160100115 (PI: Wray), the Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study (HIAS), Hitotsubashi University, the Northwestern University Economics Department’s Eisner Fund and Center for Economic History, and the Economic History Association’s Sokoloff Fellowship. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.