Socioeconomic disadvantage in childhood: does it affect self rated health among older adults in Europe?

Georgia Verropoulou, University of Piraeus
Maria Zakynthinou, University of Piraeus
Cleon Tsimbos, University of Piraeus

The paper aims at assessing the relative importance of childhood socioeconomic disadvantage on the self-rated health (SRH) of older men and women in Europe while controlling for mediators and health conditions which confound other studies. The data used in the analysis come from waves 2 and 3 of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe; wave 2 was carried out in 2006/07 and represents “current” information concerning the respondents whereas wave 3 includes retrospective material referring to their childhood. Considering the 20,829 persons participating at both waves of the survey, logistic regression models were run to examine effects of childhood disadvantage on late adulthood SRH. The findings show that all indicators (i.e. occupation of the main breadwinner at age 10, the number of books the respondent had access to at age 10, relative position in mathematics compared to peers at school and whether one had experienced a period of hunger when aged 0-15 years) are very significant predictors of SRH for both men and women aged 50 or higher even when controlling for childhood SRH and other ‘objective’ adult health indicators. When “current” socio-economic circumstances are also controlled for in a comprehensive model, the relative importance of several childhood indicators is reduced quite substantially, signifying that their effect on SRH is mediated by adult socioeconomic status and, especially, educational attainment. Nevertheless, some childhood predictors, especially “having experienced a period of hunger”, remain very significant. Further, whereas there is no substantial differentiation in the significance of childhood socio-economic status indicators between men and women, important differences can be observed regarding the importance of current indicators by sex.

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Presented in Session 81: Child well-being, health and development