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The Intergenerational Transmission of Mental and Physical Health in Australia: Evidence Using Data From the Household Income and Labor Dynamics of Australia Survey

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Article number763589
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>23/02/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Frontiers in Public Health
Number of pages10
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Promoting good health across the life course is high on countries agenda. There is a growing evidence base that health is correlated across generations. We examine the persistence of physical and mental health status across generations and explore how different early life factors and adult outcomes impact on this association. In particular, we focus on childhood disadvantage and childhood health, educational attainment, and social mobility measured by household income compared to one's parents. We use data from 19 waves of the Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The analysis is restricted to young adults (aged 25–35 years old in 2019) and their parents. We find an intergenerational correlation in health which ranges from 0.19 for physical health to 0.20 for the QALY and 0.21 for mental health. After we include covariates related to childhood disadvantage, childhood health, educational attainment, and social mobility, the intergenerational correlations are reduced to 0.13 for physical health, 0.18 for mental health, and 0.14 for QALYs. We find that early life disadvantage is the only factor influencing the intergenerational correlation for all health measures. Policy focusing on reducing the negative impact of early life disadvantage is likely to have a larger impact on improving health across the life course and reducing intergenerational health inequalities.