The child health/family income gradient: Evidence from England

J Health Econ. 2007 Mar 1;26(2):213-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2006.08.003. Epub 2006 Sep 7.


Recent studies using Canadian and US data have documented a positive relationship between family income and child health, with the slope of the gradient being larger for older than younger children [Case, A., Lubotsky, D., Paxson, C., 2002. Economic status and health in childhood: the origins of the gradient. American Economic Review 92, 1308-1334; Currie, J., Stabile, M., 2003. Socioeconomic status and child health: why is the relationship stronger for older children? American Economic Review 93, 1813-1823]. In this paper we explore whether or not these findings hold for England, analysing a sample of over 13,000 children (and their parents) drawn from the Health Survey for England. While we find consistent and robust evidence of a significant family income gradient in child health, using the subjective general health status measure, the slope of the gradient is very small. Moreover, we find no evidence that the slope of the gradient increases with child age. Furthermore, we find no evidence of such a gradient with more objective measures, based on nurse examinations and blood test results. Together these results suggest that family income is not a major determinant of child health in England. Finally, we provide some evidence that nutrition and family lifestyle choices have an important role in determining child health and that child health is highly correlated within the family.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Child, Preschool
  • England
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Physical Examination
  • Social Class*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires