The Association of Parents’ Health and the Health of Their Children in Early Adulthood

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 10:42
Oral Presentation
Kim SHUEY, University of Western Ontario, Canada
Andrea WILLSON, University of Western Ontario, Canada
Travis HACKSHAW, University of Western Ontario, Canada
To date, the majority of social science research on health has focused on the individual life course and has only implicitly addressed the intergenerational transmission of health inequality. At the same time, research on processes of intergenerational transmission has focused largely on class mobility, while often overlooking the persistence of poor health across generations. In this research, we examine potential explanations that have been identified in multiple literatures for health persistence across generations within families, including the role of childhood disadvantage, the role of poor childhood health, and low educational attainment. Our analysis utilizes data from the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, a longitudinal study of a nationally representative sample of adolescents in grades 7-12 in the United States during the 1994-95 school year who were age 24-32 in the latest wave of available data. Information on the family context, including socioeconomic status and health, also was collected from a parent during the first wave of the survey. We use multivariate models to examine multiple indicators of childhood socioeconomic disadvantage and health across adolescence and early adulthood with a focus on intergenerational continuity in poor health within families. Results from preliminary bivariate analysis indicate that parents’ poor health significantly increases the likelihood that their children will report poor health in early adulthood: 15% of parents who reported fair/poor health in Wave 1 have children who report fair/poor health in their early adulthood, compared to approximately 9% of parents who reported good or better health during their offspring’s childhood (p<.001). Our ongoing research will examine the extent to which the intergenerational transmission of health operates through childhood socioeconomic status and health and educational attainment.