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Economic status and health in childhood: the origins of the gradient

  • Economics


That wealthy people live longer and have lower morbidity, on average, than do poor people has been well documented across countries, within countries at a point in time, and over time with economic growth. The positive correlation between income and health is not limited to the bottom end of the income distribution (Adler et al 1994). Indeed, the gradient in health status—the phenomenon that relatively wealthier people have better health and longevity—is evident throughout the income distribution. In this paper we present evidence that the income gradients observed in adult health have antecedents in childhood, and suggest that 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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