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Poverty and childhood health

Four panelists addressed the relationship between poverty and childhood health. Anna Aizer discussed the relationship between parental income and childhood health, and the mechanisms through which this relationship may work. She concluded that policy interventions targeting childhood health appear to substantially reduce the intergenerational transmission of inequality. Margot Jackson examined the simultaneous effects of poverty and poor health on children’s cognitive achievement. The findings she presented support the idea that poverty is an important early factor in children’s development, and also suggest that health investments are a key part of the antipoverty safety net. Rourke O’Brien presented evidence on the effects of the Medicaid expansions of the 1980s and 1990s on intergenerational economic mobility, concluding that early access to health insurance promotes mobility and that local variation in access explains some of the local variation in mobility. Claudia Persico explored whether in utero exposure to pollution helps to explain differences by income in children’s cognitive and physical development. She concludes that exposure to pollution appears to cause lower test scores, and an increased likelihood of behavioral problems and cognitive disabilities, and that the “Superfund” cleanup program is associated with significant improvements in long-term cognitive and developmental outcomes for children. This set of articles summarizes their presentations.


Child Development & Well-Being, Child Poverty, Children, Health, Health General, Inequality & Mobility, Intergenerational Poverty


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