Health Selection in the Stratification Process: The Effect of Childhood Health on Educational Attainment, Labor Force Participation, and Earnings

Steven Haas, University of Wisconsin at Madison

This study investigates the role of health in the stratification process by examining the impact of childhood health on educational and occupational status attainment, adult health, labor force participation, and earnings using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). It also tests whether childhood health acts as a mechanism through which SES is transferred across generations. The results show health in childhood to be an important determinant of educational attainment, occupational status (men only), and adult health. Through these mechanisms, childhood health exerts a significant impact on labor force participation and earnings. The findings further highlight the need to move beyond the notion that health selection and social causation necessarily be seen as mutually exclusive causal explanations of socioeconomic differentials in health. It instead views the SES/health relationship as the result of a truly interactive process over the life course embedded within larger processes of social stratification and health attainment.

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Presented in Session 129: SES and Health across the Life Course