July 12, 2019

SOEP Brown Bag Seminar

Health of Nations: A Comparison of Intergenerational Health Mobility in Denmark, Germany and the United States


July 12, 2019
12:30 - 13:30


Francine D. Blau Room
DIW Berlin
Room 3.3.002b
Mohrenstraße 58
10117 Berlin


Carsten Andersen (Aarhus University)

Equality of opportunity with respect to health outcomes is severely understudied, while in contrast the cases of income and education have received ample attention in the economic literature. This paper is the first to analyze the importance of family background for health in a cross-country comparison. Using comparable survey data we study sibling correlations in five health outcomes in three countries with different institutions and characteristics in terms of health care provision and income inequality: Denmark, Germany and the US. The main findings are that no country comes out unequivocally as the most mobile, although, perhaps surprisingly, the US exhibit lower sibling correlations on the most outcomes. Exploring simple variance decompositions we show that higher inequality (variance) in US outcomes drives these results, underscoring how sibling correlations measure the relative importance of family background. Our findings are robust to inclusion of various parental socioeconomic controls.

Topics: Family, Health