What Do Retrospective Subjective Reports of Childhood Health Capture? Evidence from the WLS and the PSID

Steven A. Haas, Arizona State University
Nicholas J. Bishop, Arizona State University

Population researchers are increasingly interested in the utility of using retrospectively collected information on childhood health status. Several large data collections have begun collecting such information. However, little is known about the quality of these measures and what aspects of childhood health these measures are capturing. Using data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, we attempt to fill this gap by investigating the content of retrospective childhood health reports. We find that overall subjective assessments of childhood health are strongly correlated with reports of specific childhood health conditions as well as reports of health-related functional/activity limitations. For all conditions, the proportion reporting the condition increases monotonically as respondents report worse overall childhood health status.

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Presented in Session 166: What Subjective Health Status Does and Doesn't Measure