The Impact of Low-Income on Child Health: Evidence from a Birth Cohort Study

Simon Burgess, University of Bristol
Carol Propper, University of Bristol
John Rigg, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

This paper studies the link between parental income and child health. Using a UK data set 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 having low income on child health. The expected correlation between current income and the current health of the child exists, but allowing for mother related factors that are associated with both low income and poor child health we find the direct impact of income is considerably reduced. We find little evidence to suggest that the transmission mechanism from income to child health is through specific mother child related health behaviours, such as diet, breastfeeding, smoking, and mother's employment. Instead, the mechanism appears to be mother's own health, particularly her mental health, and events in her early life. In less rich data, such links would not be apparent.

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Presented in Session 89: Child Health in Developed Countries: New Methods and Findings