Children's Health Problems: Implications for Parental Labor Supply and Earnings

31 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2000

Date Written: 1982-07-01


A considerable amount of empirical research has been carried out on the economic impact of adults' health problems (e.g., Bartel and Taubman 1979; Luft 1975; Grossman and Benham 1974). A principal objective of the research has been to estimate the effects of these problems on the labor supply and earnings of illness victims. Policymakers and analysts have also expressed interest in these estimates as inputs to the process of allocating health sector resources among prevention and treatment programs for various diseases (Fuchs 1966; Fein 1958; Klarman 1965; Rice, Feldman, and White, 1976). By contrast, very few econometric studies have examined the economic impact of health problems on other family members. In particular, little is currently known about impacts on the spouses of illness victims or the parents of children with health problems. As a result, consideration of these impacts in policy analyses have been based on conjecture or, more frequently, ignored altogether. The present study focuses on the effect of chronic health problems and disabilities among children on parental labor supply and earnings. The severity of these problems, along with the long-term expense and difficulty of coping with them, raises the possibility of substantial impact on the psychological, physical, and economic health of the child's family. While relatively few children report such problems, a dramatic increase has occurred over the last decade. According to National Center for Health Statistics data (Table 8.1), the number of children with activity limitations due to chronic conditions nearly doubled from 1967 to 1978. The reasons for this increase are not presently known, but it seems likely that a variety of factors are involved, including more sophisticated medical therapies which increase survival rates for children born with physical impairments and the growing emphasis on "mainstreaming" and deinstitutionalization in public educational and social services programs.

JEL Classification: 81,90

Suggested Citation

Salkever, David S., Children's Health Problems: Implications for Parental Labor Supply and Earnings (1982-07-01). NBER Working Paper No. R0283. Available at SSRN:

David S. Salkever (Contact Author)

UMBC, Department of Public Policy ( email )

1000 Hilltop Circle
Baltimore, MD 21250

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