Health selection and the process of social stratification: the effect of childhood health on socioeconomic attainment.

School of Social and Family Dynamics, Center for Population Dynamics, Arizona State University, PO Box 4802, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA.
Journal of Health and Social Behavior (Impact Factor: 2.72). 01/2007; 47(4):339-54. DOI: 10.1177/002214650604700403
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study investigates whether childhood health acts as a mechanism through which socioeconomic status is transferred across generations. The study uses data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to track siblings and to estimate fixed-effects models that account for unobserved heterogeneity at the family level. The results demonstrate that disadvantaged social background is associated with poor childhood health. Subsequently, poor health in childhood has significant, direct, and large adverse effects on educational attainment and wealth accumulation. In addition, childhood health appears to have indirect effects on occupational standing, earnings, and wealth via educational attainment and adult health status. The results further show that socioeconomic health gradients are best understood as being embedded within larger processes of social stratification.



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