Family Socioeconomic Status, Stature, and Adult Earnings

Enrico Marcelli, Harvard University
Christopher Jencks

We employ the 1959-2002 National Health Examination Survey (NHES) and National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data to estimate the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and health in the United States by ethno-racial and income group. Specifically, we first estimate the influence of parents' income on child height controlling for parental health and childhood nutrition and illness; and then whether height influences adult earnings controlling for adult educational attainment, health, and other human capital characteristics. Having estimated the proportion of height that is explained by parental SES, we accomplish two things. First, we estimate whether a SES-height gradient exists in the United States. And second, we estimate the relative contributions of childhood environment, adult educational attainment, current health, and other human capital on adult earnings.

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Presented in Session 4: Early Life Experiences and Later Life Outcomes