You are here

Socio-economic status and child health: Why is the relationship stronger for older children?

TitleSocio-economic status and child health: Why is the relationship stronger for older children?
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsCurrie, J., and Stabile M.
JournalThe American Economic Review
Pages1813 - 1823
Date PublishedDecember
Keywordschildhood health, health shocks, palliative care, socioeconomic status

Case, Lubotsky, and Paxson (2001) show that the well-known relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and health exists in childhood and grows more pronounced with age. However, in cross-sectional data it is difficult to distinguish between two possible explanations. The first is that low-SES children are less able to respond to a given health shock. The second is that low SES children experience more shocks. We show, using panel data on Canadian children that: 1) the gradient we estimate in the cross section is very similar to that estimated previously using U.S. children; 2) both high and low-SES children recover from past health shocks to about the same degree; and 3) that the relationship between SES and health grows stronger over time mainly because low-SES children receive more negative health shocks. In addition, we examine the effect of health shocks on math and reading scores. We find that health shocks affect test scores and future health in very similar ways. Our results suggest that public policy aimed at reducing SES-related health differentials in children should focus on reducing the incidence of health shocks as well as on reducing disparities in access to palliative care.

Document URL