Why Do Unhealthy Children Do Worse in School? Understanding the Link between Race, Health and Education

Margot I. Jackson, University of California, Los Angeles

This project considers childhood health as a determinant of educational disparities among older children and young adults. While poor health has often been studied as a consequence of childhood and/or family socioeconomic conditions, it is also clear that illness and poor health during childhood have lasting socioeconomic effects. What is less established is why poor health during childhood may influence educational outcomes later in life. I use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79) Children and Young Adult files and the NLSY97 to examine mechanisms that may mediate the connection between children’s health and educational attainment in young adulthood. In addition, I consider the extent to which childhood health disparities account for racial disparities in educational outcomes in young adulthood. While childhood health disparities may contribute to educational disparities among the general population, they may also play a role in creating and maintaining the racial achievement gap that is so persistent in American society.

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Presented in Session 42: Influences of Health on Socioeconomic Status