The income gradient and child mental health in Australia: does it vary by assessors?

  • Rasheda KhanamEmail author
  • Son Nghiem
  • Maisha Rahman
Original Paper


In this paper, we examine the income gradient in child mental health using longitudinal data from a large, national cohort of Australian children. We contribute to the body of existing literature by: (i) investigating whether and to what extent a child’s mental health levels and their relationship to income vary when a child’s mental health is assessed by the child’s parent, the child’s teacher and the child her/himself; (ii) exploring whether the reporting differences in a child’s mental health is associated systematically with household income; and (iii) examining the child mental health gradient and the evolution of this gradient by the child’s age. We found that a child’s mental health and the income gradient vary depending on who assesses the child’s mental health (the gradient was the largest when assessed by parents and the smallest when assessed by the child). Furthermore, the magnitude of the effect of mental health and income gradient faded when we controlled for some important variables, such as maternal health.


Income Child mental health Children’s socio-emotional outcomes Assessors Australia Panel data 

JEL Classification

I12 I14 



We greatly acknowledge the contribution of Dr. Francisco (Paco) Perales (Institute for Social Science Research, The University of Queensland) on the initial draft of the paper. We also grateful to two anonymous referees of this journal and the participants of the 14th International Conference of Western Economic Association International for their feedback. This paper uses unit record data from Growing Up in Australia, the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. The study is conducted in partnership between the Department of Social Services (DSS), the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Appropriate ethical approval was gained during the study. The findings and views reported in this paper are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the DSS, the AIFS, or the ABS.


No financial support/fund is received to conduct this research. This is conducted as part of our regular service.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of CommerceUniversity of Southern QueenslandToowoombaAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Applied Health Economics, School of MedicineGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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