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Childhood Socioeconomic Status and Late-Adulthood Mental Health: Results From the Survey on Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe

Viola Angelini (), Daniel Howdon () and Jochen Mierau ()

Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 2019, vol. 74, issue 1, 95-104

Abstract: Objectives A growing literature acknowledges the association between childhood socioeconomic status (SES) and health in late adulthood (i.e., 50+). Less, however, is known about the association with mental health outcomes, such as depression. We use the Survey on Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) to analyze overall and gender-specific associations between childhood SES and late-adulthood depression. Methods Using life history and contemporaneous data from 21,989 SHARE respondents in combination with principal component analysis we construct indices of childhood SES. We measure late-adulthood depression using the EURO-D scale. Contemporaneous SES is operationalized as the logarithm of household equivalized income. We estimate associations using linear regression models. Results We document a positive association between childhood SES and the late-adulthood EURO-D score. The association persists even when allowing for contemporaneous SES. Zooming in on gender-specific associations reveals that the association for mental health is particularly pronounced for women. Discussion Our findings reveal the long-term association between childhood socioeconomic conditions and depression later in life, which persists even after taking into account current socioeconomic conditions and are stronger for women than for men. These results imply that boosting childhood socioeconomic conditions can potentially have effects lasting well beyond the childhood phase.

Keywords: Childhood socioeconomic status; Depression; Mental health (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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