Does the Effect of Income on Health Still Increase with Child Age?

Janet Currie, Columbia University
Wanchuan Lin, University of California, Los Angeles

Previous research suggests that income becomes a more important determinant of child health as children age, but it is not known whether this is due to more frequent health insults or inferior access to care. Using data from the NHIS, this paper investigates the effect of expansions of public health insurance on the relationship between income, health, and child age, in order to assess the importance of access to care. Federally mandated expansions of public health insurance were phased in gradually over the past 20 years and covered progressively older children. State-to-state variation in the timing of the expansions is used to identify their effects. We show that these mandates reduced the overall relationship between income and child health, and the extent to which the relationship strengthens with child age. In 2001-2005, the relationship between income and health is the same for the youngest and oldest children.

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Presented in Session 23: Explaining the SES-Health Gradient