Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient

Anne Case, Darren Lubotsky, Christina Paxson

NBER Working Paper No. 8344
Issued in June 2001
NBER Program(s):Children, Health Care

We show that the well-known positive association between health and income in adulthood has antecedents in childhood. Using the National Health Interview Surveys, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, we find that children's health is positively related to household income. The relationship between household income and children's health status becomes more pronounced as children grow older. A large component of the relationship between income and children's health can be explained by the arrival and impact of chronic health conditions in childhood. Children from lower-income households with chronic health conditions have worse health than do children from higher-income households. Further, we find that children's health is closely associated with long-run average household income, and that the adverse health effects of lower permanent income accumulate over children's lives. Part of the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status may work through the impact of parents' long run average income on children's health.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w8344

Published: Case, Anne, Darren Lubotsky and Christina Paxson. "Economic Status And Health In Childhood: The Origins Of The Gradient," American Economic Review, 2002, v92(5,Dec), 1308-1334. citation courtesy of

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