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A Bayesian Analysis of Sibling Correlations in Health

Timothy Halliday and Bhashkar Mazumder ()

No 201426, Working Papers from University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics

Abstract: We estimate sibling correlations in health status using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. We use Bayesian methods to estimate the covariance structure of a system of latent variable equations. Across a battery of outcomes, we estimate that between 50% and 60% of health status can be attributed to familial or neighborhood characteristics. Taking the principal component across all outcomes, we obtain a slightly lower sibling correlation of about 45%. These estimates, which are larger than previous estimates of sibling correlations in health that rely on linear models, are more in-line with sibling correlations in income and suggest that health status, like other measures of socioeconomic success, is strongly influenced by family background. Therefore, efforts to improve the circumstances of families and communities may potentially lead to improved childhood health today and also reduce future health disparities.

Keywords: Sibling correlations; Intergenerational mobility; Health (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D3 I0 I12 J0 J62 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 38 pages
Date: 2014-10
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea
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