Early-Life Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Health in Late Middle-Age: Importance of Heterogeneous Income Trajectories

Res Aging. 2023 May-Jun;45(5-6):458-474. doi: 10.1177/01640275221117304. Epub 2022 Aug 10.


This paper aims to investigate heterogeneous income changes and whether the income trajectories moderate effects of early socioeconomic disadvantage on health in late middle age. The sample was restricted to 9,056 middle-aged adults from the Health and Retirement Study (1998-2010). Through a latent class growth analysis, six patterns of income changes were identified: constantly low, constantly moderate, constantly high & increasing, high to low, moderate to high, and high to moderate. The Constantly low group more frequently displayed depressive symptoms if exposed to early socioeconomic disadvantage and Constantly low income mobility. Individuals who experienced early socioeconomic disadvantage and a downward income mobility in middle age tended to have multiple chronic conditions while there was no moderating effect of income changes for mobility functional limitations. These findings suggest that not all health outcomes are programmed in early life: Disadvantage can be somewhat alleviated through stable and better later-life economic status.

Keywords: health; income trajectory; late middle-age; life course.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Income*
  • Middle Aged
  • Poverty
  • Retirement
  • Socioeconomic Disparities in Health*
  • Socioeconomic Factors