We document how rates of childhood health conditions have changed over the past two decades and assess the implications of these health conditions for the transition to adulthood. As a means to focus our inquiry, we looked at health conditions that are directly affected by increases in technology use and declines in physical activities – key trends shaping the daily lives of American youth as they grow and develop. These health conditions include asthma, mental health problems, and obesity. All three health conditions have been increasing in their prevalence during childhood over the past two decades. We find that mental health conditions in childhood appear to be most consequential for young adults, as evidenced by lower rates of educational attainment and sustained financial dependence on their parents among those exhibiting mental health impairments in childhood.
Robert Bozick is a senior demographer at the RAND Corporation and a member of the Pardee RAND Graduate School faculty. His research focuses on linkages between school and work across the life course, workforce development strategies and policies, immigration, and the transition to adulthood for disadvantaged populations. A core focus of his research is identifying the most effective policies and programs to improve employment outcomes for those facing economic and health challenges.
Bozick has 18 years of experience developing and testing survey instruments, analyzing survey data, and using longitudinal data to address public policy issues in education, population, and workforce development. Currently, he is leading the design, collection, and analysis of the California Socioeconomic Study, a three-year longitudinal survey of economically disadvantaged families in California receiving public benefits to understand their health and wellbeing. This survey is part of an evaluation of reforms in the state's welfare legislation for the California Department of Social Services, for which Bozick is the coprincipal investigator. Additionally, with support from the National Institutes of Health, Bozick is studying how childhood health conditions affect educational attainment and employment during the transition to adulthood (with Narayan Sastry) and how state immigration enforcement laws affect the health of undocumented immigrants (with Kate Strully). Lastly, he is leading a multi-method study of industry-designed sub-baccalaureate credentialing programs to prepare workers for jobs in the emerging energy sector in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia for the National Science Foundation.
Narayan Sastry is a Research Professor in the Survey Research Center and the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. He is also an Adjunct Senior Social Scientist at the RAND Corporation. Sastry has been at the University of Michigan since 2006. Sastry was previously a Senior Social Scientist at RAND and Associate Director of RAND’s Labor and Population Program and Population Research Center. Sastry’s research interests center on studying the social and spatial dimensions of health, development, and well-being of children and adolescents, both in the United States and in less developed countries.
Sastry serves as an Associate Director of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), and he directs the PSID Child Development Supplement (PSID-CDS) and the PSID Transition into Adulthood Supplement (PSID-TAS). He is the Co-Director of the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey (L.A.FANS). Sastry is also the Director of the Displaced New Orleans Residents Survey (DNORS) that was designed to study the long-term demographic effects of Hurricane Katrina on the pre-storm population of New Orleans. Sastry received his Ph.D. in Demography and Public Affairs from Princeton University in 1995.
*This working paper was made possible by the US 2050 project, supported by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and the Ford Foundation. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors.