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Melvin Stephens

Health Inequalities and the Reproduction of Disadvantage in Early Childhood

a PSC Small Fund Research Project

Investigator:   Kristin Turney

A burgeoning body of literature suggests that early childhood health plays an important role in the intragenerational transmission of advantage and disadvantage. It is well known that childhood health problems may lead to poor health and low socioeconomic status in adulthood, though much less is known about the proximal consequences of childhood health problems. It is likely that children in poor health, compared to their healthy counterparts, have worse cognitive outcomes and are more likely to be retained, and that these proximal consequences are one pathway through which early childhood health affects adult outcomes. In this project, I use two data sources (the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) and the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWB)) to answer one general research question: What are the consequences of early childhood health for educational outcomes in elementary school? I employ statistical techniques (twin fixed-effects and propensity score matching) to examine the importance of timing and chronicity of childhood health problems, to consider the mechanisms through which poor childhood health leads to educational disadvantages in elementary school, and to advance our causal understanding of the implications of poor childhood health.

Funding Period: 02/01/2011 to 06/30/2012

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