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      The long shadow cast by childhood physical and mental problems on adult life

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      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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          Abstract

          In this article we assess and compare long-term adult socioeconomic status impacts from having experienced psychological and physical health problems in childhood. To do so, we use unique prospective data from the British National Child Development Study, a continuing panel study of a cohort of 17,634 children born in Great Britain during a single week in March 1958. To date there have been nine waves for this birth cohort to monitor their physical, educational, and social development, during childhood (at birth and 7, 11, and 16 y) and adulthood (age 23, 33, 42, 46, and 50 y). Excellent contemporaneous information exists throughout childhood on physical and psychological health, captured by doctor and nurse-led medical examinations and detailed parental and teacher questionnaires. This information is combined with a wealth of contemporaneous information on adult health and economic experiences collected from cohort members. Information includes their economic circumstances (earnings, labor supply, and other sources of family income), physical and psychological health, and relationship status. Large effects are found due to childhood psychological problems on the ability of affected children to work and earn as adults and on intergenerational and within-generation social mobility. Adult family incomes are reduced by 28% by age 50 y, with sustained impacts on labor supply, marriage stability, and the conscientiousness and agreeableness components of the "Big Five" personality traits. Effects of psychological health disorders during childhood are far more important over a lifetime than physical health problems.

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          The lasting impact of childhood health and circumstance.

          We quantify the lasting effects of childhood health and economic circumstances on adult health, employment and socioeconomic status, using data from a birth cohort that has been followed from birth into middle age. Controlling for parental income, education and social class, children who experience poor health have significantly lower educational attainment, poorer health, and lower social status as adults. Childhood health and circumstance appear to operate both through their impact on initial adult health and economic status, and through a continuing direct effect of prenatal and childhood health in middle age. Overall, our findings suggest more attention be paid to health as a potential mechanism through which intergenerational transmission of economic status takes place: cohort members born into poorer families experienced poorer childhood health, lower investments in human capital and poorer health in early adulthood, all of which are associated with lower earnings in middle age-the years in which they themselves become parents.
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            Long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect on adult economic well-being.

            Child abuse and neglect represent major threats to child health and well-being; however, little is known about consequences for adult economic outcomes. Using a prospective cohort design, court substantiated cases of childhood physical and sexual abuse and neglect during 1967-1971 were matched with nonabused and nonneglected children and followed into adulthood (mean age 41). Outcome measures of economic status and productivity were assessed in 2003-2004 (N 1/4 807). Results indicate that adults with documented histories of childhood abuse and/or neglect have lower levels of education, employment, earnings, and fewer assets as adults, compared to matched control children. There is a 14% gap between individuals with histories of abuse/neglect and controls in the probability of employment in middle age, controlling for background characteristics. Maltreatment appears to affect men and women differently, with larger effects for women than men. These new findings demonstrate that abused and neglected children experience large and enduring economic consequences.
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              Time trends in adolescent mental health

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                April 12 2011
                April 12 2011
                March 28 2011
                April 12 2011
                : 108
                : 15
                : 6032-6037
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.1016970108
                3076863
                21444801
                © 2011
                Product

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