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Working paper 04/098 - Abstract

The Impact of Low-Income on Child Health: Evidence from a Birth Cohort Study (PDF, file 113 KB)

Simon Burgess, Carol Propper, John Rigg and the ALSPAC Study Team

There is a growing literature that shows that higher family income is associated with better health for children. Wealthier parents may have more advantaged children because they have more income to buy health care or because parental wealth is associated with beneficial behaviours or because parental health is associated with both income and children's health. The policy implications of these transmission mechanisms are quite different. We attempt to unpick the correlation between income and health by examining routes by which parental disadvantage is transmitted into child disadvantage. Using a UK cohort study that has rich information on mother's early life events, her health, her behaviours that may affect child health, and her child's health, we examine the impact of being in low income compared to that of mother child health related behaviours and mother's own health on child health. We find children from poorer households have poorer health. But we find the direct impact of income is small. A larger role is played by mother's own health and events in her early life. No clear role is played by mother child health production behaviours.

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