The role of permanent income and family structure in the determination of child health in Canada
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We use data from the Ontario Child Health Study (OCHS) to provide the first Canadian estimates of how the empirical association between child health and both low-income and family status (lone-mother versus two-parent) changes when we re-estimate the model with pooled data. Two waves of data provide a better indication of the family's long-run level of economic resources than does one wave. Our measures of health status include categorical indicators and the health utility score derived from the Health Utilities Index Mark 2 (HUI2) system. Consistent with findings from other countries, we find that most outcomes are more strongly related to low-average income (in 1982 and 1986) than to low-current income in either year. Unlike some previous research, we find the quantitative impact of low-income on child health to be modest to large. Lone-mother status is negatively associated with most outcomes, but the lone-mother coefficients did not change significantly when we switched from low-current income to low-average income. This implies that the lone-mother coefficient in single cross-sections is not just a proxy for low-permanent income.
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