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J Health Econ. 2008 Dec;27(6):1489-502. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2008.07.012. Epub 2008 Aug 6.

An evaluation of the age-profile in the relationship between household income and the health of children in the United States.

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School of Business, University of Houston-Clear Lake, 2700 Bay Area Boulevard, Houston, TX 77058, United States.


Previous work has shown that the income gradient in child health for the United States becomes steeper with age. This paper shows a similar pattern using the 1996-2005 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys (MEPS). A framework is also presented to evaluate cumulative and contemporaneous income effects through the use of baseline health controls. The analysis shows that poor health is more persistent in older children, and that the income gradient is substantially flattened over age groups when controlling for baseline health. However, even when controlling for baseline health, there remains a stronger effect from income on the health of adolescents. These results may reflect a cumulative effect from income that explains much of the strengthening association between income and health before adolescence, with a remaining stronger contemporaneous association in that age group. The analysis is unable to identify a major role of chronic conditions or injuries in these relationships.

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