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Child health: evidence on the roles of family income and maternal mental health from a UK birth cohort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1245 - 1269
Number of pages25
JournalHealth Economics
Volume16 (11)
DatePublished - Nov 2007


There is a growing literature showing an association between higher family income and better child health. This paper uses cohort data with rich information on mother's early life events, her health, child-health-related behaviours, and her child's health to examine this association for the UK and to identify some of the mechanisms through which income affects child health. The paper examines the cross-sectional association between income and health, finds the expected association, but concludes that the association with current income cannot be distinguished from one between permanent income and child health. It then focuses on the mechanisms by which income translates into better child health; these include parental behaviours that may affect child health and parental health, including maternal mental health. Controlling for these factors, there is almost no direct impact of income. A significant role is played by mother's own health, particularly her mental health. No clear role is played by child-health production behaviours of the mother. Examining the maternal mental health-child health link in more detail suggests a role for maternal anxiety and somaticism.

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Publisher: Wiley

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