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The Great Recession and the Health of Young Children: A Fixed Effects Analysis in Ireland

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Erica Reinhard, Richard Layte, Cathal McCrory, Lidia Panico, Mauricio Avendano

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1438–1448
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Volume187
Issue number7
Early online date12 Jan 2018
DOIs
Accepted/In press8 Jan 2018
E-pub ahead of print12 Jan 2018
PublishedJul 2018

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Abstract

Economic recessions have been linked to adult health, but few studies have examined how recessions influence the health of young children. This study examines the impact of life transitions linked to the financial crisis in Ireland on the health of young children. Data came from the Growing Up in Ireland Infant Cohort Study (n = 11,134), which assessed children before (2008), during (2011), and after (2013) the recession and incorporated questions on the impacts of the financial crisis on families. Using fixed effects models to control for confounding, we found that a reduction in welfare benefits during the recession was associated with a significant increase in the risk of asthma (β = 0.0136, 95% confidence interval (95% CI): 0.0062, 0.0328) and atopy (β = 0.0161, 95% CI: 0.0026, 0.0297). While parental job loss was not associated with child health, a reduction in working hours was associated with increased reports of fair or poor child health (β = 0.0235, 95% CI: 0.0041, 0.0429), as were difficulties affording basics (β = 0.0193, 95% CI: 0.0005, 0.0381). Results suggest that failing to protect vulnerable families and children during economic recessions may have long-lasting implications for child health.

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