Mediating Role of Education and Lifestyles in the Relationship between Early-Life Conditions and Health: Evidence from the 1958 British Cohort
AUHE Working Paper Series WP11-06
36 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2011
Date Written: June 1, 2011
The paper focuses on the long-term effects of early-life conditions with comparison to lifestyles and current socioeconomic factors on health status in a cohort of British people born in 1958. Using the longitudinal follow-up data at age 23, 33, 42 and 46, we build a dynamic model to investigate the influence of each determinant on health and the mediating role of education and lifestyles in the relationship between early-life conditions and later health. Direct and indirect effects of early-life conditions on adult health are explored using auxiliary linear regressions of education and lifestyles and panel Probit specifications of self-assessed health with random effects addressing individual unexplained heterogeneity. Our study shows that early-life conditions are important parameters for adult health, their contribution to health disparities increases from 17.8% to 23% when mediating effects are identified. They also shape other health determinants: the contribution of lifestyles reduces from 28% down to 22% when indirect effects of early-life conditions are distinguished. Noticeably, the absence of father at the time of birth and experience of financial hardships represent the lead factors for direct effects on health. The absence of obesity at 16 influences health both directly and indirectly working through lifestyles.
Keywords: cohort, decomposition, early-life conditions, education, lifestyles
JEL Classification: D63, I12
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