Sources of Variation in the Income Gradient in Child Mental Health: Evidence from Australia

13 Nov 2017

Understanding the factors that enhance or limit children’s physical and mental health is a topic of increasing interest to researchers and policymakers alike, as child health is known to have short- and long-term effects on academic attainment, adult health and labour market outcomes. Income is one important precursor of child physical and general health, but studies examining income gradients in child mental health remain scarce. In this paper, we examine the income gradient in child mental health using longitudinal data from a large, national cohort of Australian children (The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children). We contribute to the body of existing literature by (i) better accounting for sources of heterogeneity that might give rise to spurious associations between income and child mental health, (ii) examining the evolution of the income gradient in child mental health by child’s age, and (iii) comparing whether child mental health levels and their relationship with income vary when child mental health is assessed by the child’s parent, the child’s teacher and the child herself/himself.

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This working paper is published through the ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course (Life Course Centre) as a collaboration between ISSR's Francisco (Paco) Perales, Rasheda Khanam School of Commerce (University of Southern Queensland) and Son Nghiem (School of Public Health and Social Work, Queensland University of Technology).