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Research Program in Development Studies

Recipients of the Kenneth J. Arrow Award

Anne Case and Christina Paxson, both Professors of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University, will be awarded the 11th Annual Kenneth J. Arrow Award for the Best Paper in Health Economics. They share the honor with Assistant Professor Darren Lubotsky from the University of Illinois, for their paper "Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient." The paper was written while Professor Lubotsky was a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton's Center for Health and Wellbeing, and was published in the American Economic Review in December 2002. The paper was judged by an international panel of health economists to be the most important research paper in the field during the previous year.

Case, Lubotsky and Paxson document the fact that differences in health across poorer and wealthier individuals begin very early in childhood and become more pronounced as children age. These effects operate in part through chronic health conditions such as asthma and diabetes: poorer children with these conditions have worse health than do wealthier children with the same health conditions. Why do poorer children fare worse? The mechanisms at work are still poorly understood. Case, Lubotsky and Paxson find that simple genetic stories, in which parents who are in poor health earn less and have less healthy children, do not explain the results. Nor does it appear that health insurance is an important factor. In current research, Case and Paxson are researching the long-term effects of poor health in childhood on earnings and health in adulthood.

The Arrow Award is named in honor of Kenneth Arrow, Stanford professor emeritus and winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Arrow's research on risk and insurance is one of the foundations of modern health economics. The award will be presented at the 2003 summer meeting of the International Health Economics Association.

The paper is summarized in a Center for Health and Wellbeing research brief: Economic Status and Health in Childhood: the Origins of the Gradient