Study Suggests Better Health Care Improves Cognitive Development For Kids

Wider access to health-care may pay off in better cognitive skills for kids, The Wall Street Journal reports.

A new study by three economists, "links improvements in test scores of black teenagers from the South in the 1980s to improved health care they received as children after Southern hospitals were integrated in the 1960s. The bottom line, in a working paper circulated by the Chicago Fed, is this: 'Improved post-neonatal health among blacks born between the early 1960s and early 1970s ... led to long-term improvements in the academic and cognitive skills of these cohorts as teenagers.'"

The Journal analyzes the study and presents a chart showing that an increase in academic achievement for African Americans coincides with improved access to health care. The results offer lessons for the developing world and "the U.S., as well, as it contemplates priorities at a time of recessionary stress on state and local government budgets, and the national restructuring of its massive health-care system. The consequences of these decisions will reverberate for decades to come and the quality of the health care children get today will shape their contributions to the economy when they grow up" (Wessel, 10/8).

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