The lasting impact of childhood health and circumstance

A. Case, A. Fertig, C. Paxson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

975 Scopus citations


We quantify the lasting effects of childhood health and economic circumstances on adult health, employment and socioeconomic status, using data from a birth cohort that has been followed from birth into middle age. Controlling for parental income, education and social class, children who experience poor health have significantly lower educational attainment, poorer health, and lower social status as adults. Childhood health and circumstance appear to operate both through their impact on initial adult health and economic status, and through a continuing direct effect of prenatal and childhood health in middle age. Overall, our findings suggest more attention be paid to health as a potential mechanism through which intergenerational transmission of economic status 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. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-389
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Health Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005

Bibliographical note

Cited By :656

Export Date: 26 December 2018


Correspondence Address: Case, A.; 367 Wallace Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544-1013, United States; email:

Funding details: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Funding details: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NICHD

Funding details: National Institutes of Health, NIH, R01 HD41141-01

Funding text 1: We thank Angus Deaton and Jeff Kling for useful discussions, and Janet Currie, Helen Levy, seminar participants at several universities and an anonymous referee for useful comments. This research has been funded in part through NIH grant R01 HD41141-01(National Institute for Child Health and Development). Fertig acknowledges support from a MacArthur Foundation postdoctoral fellowship while writing this paper.


  • Childhood health
  • Life course models
  • NCDS
  • Panel data
  • child health
  • health status
  • medical geography
  • panel data
  • socioeconomic status
  • academic achievement
  • attention
  • capital
  • child development
  • cohort analysis
  • economic aspect
  • education
  • employment
  • experience
  • family
  • health care
  • human
  • investment
  • parent
  • prenatal period
  • review
  • social class
  • socioeconomics


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