Does Poor Infant Health Widen Racial Disparities in Childhood and Adulthood?

Publication Date


Grant Type

Early Career Research Award


The link between improved early life conditions and upward mobility is now well established (e.g. García, Heckman, Leaf, & Prados, 2020). A wide range of studies find that increasing access to early life health care, nutrition, and education improves overall well-being throughout life in both developed and developing contexts. However, despite massive public expenditures in the U.S. on programs targeting vulnerable youth before the age of 5, large inequalities throughout the lifecycle persist across high and low-income children, especially among children born into low-income Black families (Hoynes & Schanzenbach, 2018). While literature focused on understanding the persistence of these racial gaps into adulthood tends to highlight the role of unequal access to critical early childhood programs, less is known about the extent to which current program design could also be exacerbating racial gaps throughout childhood and into adulthood.