Socioeconomic differences in children's health: how and why do these relationships change with age?

Psychol Bull. 2002 Mar;128(2):295-329. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.128.2.295.


The effects of socioeconomic status (SES) on health are well documented in adulthood, but far less is known about its effects in childhood. The authors reviewed the literature and found support for a childhood SES effect, whereby each decrease in SES was associated with an increased health risk. The authors explored how this relationship changed as children underwent normal developmental changes and proposed 3 models to describe the temporal patterns. The authors found that a model's capacity to explain SES-health relationships varied across health outcomes. Childhood injury showed stronger relationships with SES at younger ages, whereas smoking showed stronger relationships with SES in adolescence. Finally, the authors proposed a developmental approach to exploring mechanisms that link SES and child health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Socioeconomic Factors