From Cradle to Grave? The Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance

43 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2003

See all articles by Anne Case

Anne Case

Princeton University - Research Program in Development Studies; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Angela R. Fertig

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Christina H. Paxson

Princeton University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 2003

Abstract

We quantify the lasting effects of childhood health and economic circumstances on adult health and earnings, using data from a birth cohort that has been followed from birth into middle age. We find, controlling for parents' incomes, educations and social status, that children who experience poor health have significantly lower educational attainment, and significantly poorer health and lower earnings on average as adults. Childhood factors appear to operate largely through their effects on educational attainment and initial adult health. Taken together with earlier findings that poorer children enter adulthood in worse health and with less education than wealthier children, these results indicate that a key determinant of health in adulthood is economic status in childhood rather than economic status in adulthood. Overall, our findings suggest more attention be paid to health as a potential mechanism through which intergenerational transmission of poverty takes place: cohort members born into poorer families experienced poorer childhood health, lower investments in human capital and poorer health in early adulthood, all of which are associated with lower earnings in middle age -- the years in which they themselves become parents.

Suggested Citation

Case, Anne and Fertig, Angela R. and Paxson, Christina H., From Cradle to Grave? The Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance (June 2003). NBER Working Paper No. w9788. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=418290

Anne Case (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Research Program in Development Studies ( email )

Woodrow Wilson School
345 Wallace Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544
United States
609-258-2177 (Phone)
609-258-5974 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Angela R. Fertig

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities ( email )

420 Delaware St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Christina H. Paxson

Princeton University ( email )

316 Wallace Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544
United States
609-258-6474 (Phone)
609-258-5974 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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