Childhood social and economic well-being and health in older age

Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Nov 1;166(9):1059-67. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwm185. Epub 2007 Aug 23.

Abstract

Childhood socioeconomic status (SES) acts over a lifetime to influence adult health outcomes. Whether the impact of childhood SES differs by age or race/ethnicity is unclear. The authors studied 20,566 community-living US adults aged > or =50 years. Parental education was the main predictor. Outcomes evaluated (1998-2002) included self-reported health and functional limitation. The influence of childhood SES on later-life health was also examined in groups stratified by age and race/ethnicity, with adjustment for demographic factors and current SES. Participants' mean age was 67 years; 57% were women. By race/ethnicity, 76% were White, 14% were Black, and 8% were Latino. The relation between low parental education and fair/poor self-rated health declined with advancing age (age 50-64 years: adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.42, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.24, 1.63; age > or =80 years: AOR = 1.14, 95% CI: 0.96, 1.36). The relation between low parental education and fair/poor self-rated health differed across racial/ethnic groups and was significant in White (AOR = 1.33, 95% CI: 1.21, 1.47) and Black (AOR = 1.37, 95% CI: 1.14, 1.64) participants but not Latinos. These findings suggest that childhood SES affects health status through midlife but the effects may abate in late life; its effects also may be weaker in Latinos than in Whites or Blacks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Odds Ratio
  • Poverty
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sampling Studies
  • San Francisco / epidemiology
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • White People / statistics & numerical data