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Upward intergenerational transmission of health inequality
  1. Yaoyue Hu1,
  2. Martin Bobak2
  1. 1 Laboratory of Population Health, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany
  2. 2 Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Yaoyue Hu, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock 18057, Germany; hu{at}demogr.mpg.de

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Health benefits associated with socioeconomic advantage have been widely documented across genders, life course, populations and cultures.1 Intergenerational transmission of income, social support and human capital in the family, and its association with health, is not a new phenomenon.2 3 The WHO Review of Social Determinants and the Health Divide in the WHO European Region 4 urged actions and policy to tackle intergenerational transmission of health inequality from parents and grandparents to children. A recent systematic review confirmed a positive downward ‘spillover’ effect of parents’ education on children’s health, as well as a positive upward ‘spillover’ effect of children’s education on parents’ health5; however, the upward direction of intergenerational transmission has been rarely investigated in studies of health inequalities.

The study published by Zhao et al 6 provides an interesting angle on the upward ‘spillover’ effect of children’s political status on their older parents’ physical health. This study benefits from the specific social context in contemporary China, where cadres are an advantaged stratum of the population, distinguished from others …

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