Child health and its effect on adult social capital accumulation


Lebenbaum, Michael; de Oliveira, Claire; Gagnon, France; & Laporte, Audrey (2024). Child health and its effect on adult social capital accumulation. Health Economics.


Although studies have demonstrated important effects of poor health in childhood on stocks of human and health capital, little research has tested economic theories to investigate the effect of child health on social capital in adulthood. Studies on the influence of child health on adult social capital are mixed and have not used sibling fixed effects models to account for unmeasured family and genetic characteristics, that are likely to be important. Using the Add-Health sample, health in childhood was assessed as self-rated health, the occurrence of a physical health condition or mental health condition, while social capital in adulthood was measured as volunteering, religious service attendance, team sports participation, number of friends, social isolation, and social support. We used sibling fixed effects models, which attenuated several associations to non-significance. In sibling fixed effects models there was significant positive effects of greater self-rated health on participation in team sports and social support, and negative effect of mental health in childhood on social isolation in adulthood. These results suggest that children with poor health require additional supports to build and maintain their stock of social capital and highlight further potential benefits to efforts that address poor child health.



child health

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Health Economics


Lebenbaum, Michael
de Oliveira, Claire
Gagnon, France
Laporte, Audrey

Year Published



January 18, 2024





Reference ID