Health and Educational Trajectories in Elementary School for Racial and Ethnic Minority Children

Carolina Milesi, University of Chicago
Aly Turner, University of Wisconsin at Madison

This paper examines whether children’s health conditions affect their academic achievement during the first six years of elementary school, a critical period for children’s cognitive development. We document the co-occurrence of health and academic achievement trajectories, focusing on children of different racial, ethnic and immigrant statuses. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort we show that poor health conditions are associated with lower academic achievement throughout children’s elementary school years and for children of all groups of interest. This association holds even when comparing children within the same schools, through a school-fixed effects model. Despite the detrimental effect of poor health, health plays a minimal role in accounting for racial and ethnic disparities in test scores. We discuss further extensions of this work, in particular the dynamic co-occurrence of health and achievement trajectories, dependent either on the persistence/variability of health "conditions" or on the persistence/variability of health "effects."

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Presented in Session 142: Educational Trends and Trajectories