Family and Community Influences on Health and Socioeconomic Status: Sibling Correlations Over the Life Course
Bhashkar Mazumder ()
The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 2011, vol. 11, issue 3, 1-23
This paper presents new estimates of sibling correlations in health and socioeconomic outcomes over the life course in the U.S. Sibling correlations provide an omnibus measure of the importance of all family and community influences. I find that sibling correlations in a range of health and socioeconomic outcomes start quite high at birth and remain high over the life course. The sibling correlation in birth weight is estimated to be 0.5. Sibling correlations in test scores during childhood are as high as 0.6. Sibling correlations in adult men’s wages are also around 0.5. Decompositions provide suggestive evidence on which pathways may account for the gradients in health and SES by family background. For example, sibling correlations in cognitive skills and non-cognitive skills during childhood are lower controlling for family income. Similarly, parent education levels can account for a sizable portion of the correlation in adult health status among brothers.
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