Association of child maltreatment with South African adults’ wages: Evidence from the Cape area panel study

Xiaodong Zheng, Xiangming Fang, Deborah A. Fry, Gary Ganz, Tabitha Casey, Celia Hsiao, Catherine L. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Child maltreatment is a prevalent public health problem in both developed and developing countries. While many studies have investigated the relationship between violence against children and health of the victims, little is known about the long term economic consequences of child maltreatment, especially in developing countries. Using data from the Cape Area Panel Study, this paper applies Heckman selection models to investigate the relationship between childhood maltreatment and young adults’ wages in South Africa. The results show that, on average, any experience of physical or emotional abuse during childhood is associated with a later 12% loss of young adults’ wages. In addition, the correlation between physical abuse and economic consequence (14%) is more significant than the relationship between emotional abuse and wages (8%) of young adults; and the higher the frequency of maltreatment, the greater the associations with wages. With respect to gender differences, wage loss due to the experience of childhood maltreatment is larger for females than males. Specifically, males’ wages are more sensitive to childhood emotional abuse, while females’ wages are more likely to be affected by childhood physical abuse. These results emphasize the importance of prioritizing investments in prevention and intervention programs to reduce the prevalence of child maltreatment and to help victims better overcome the long-term negative effect.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalHealth economics review
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • child maltreatment
  • physical abuse
  • emotional abuse
  • wages
  • Heckman selection model
  • South Africa


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