Socioeconomic status and children's health

Med Care. 1985 Feb;23(2):142-56. doi: 10.1097/00005650-198502000-00005.


This article explores the relationship between socioeconomic status and three common children's health problems: ear disease, hearing loss, and vision problems. Data are from a household survey and independent clinical examination of 1,063 black children in Washington, D.C. In the study sample, all three problems had a U-shaped relationship to income, with significantly higher prevalences among both upper- and lower-income children than the middle-income group, even controlling statistically for other socioeconomic factors. Except for past illness, income was generally the strongest determinant of children's health, followed by housing crowding and neighborhood income level. Some risk factors varied between upper- and lower-income children. Doctor contacts seemed to reduce illness among poor children but not among the more affluent, while the use of "private" rather than "public" settings did not appear to benefit either group. Policy implications are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • District of Columbia
  • Ear Diseases / epidemiology
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Health Surveys*
  • Hearing Disorders / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Income*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Regression Analysis
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Vision Disorders / epidemiology