Black-White Differences in the Relationship between Childhood Socioeconomic Status and Adult Health

Mary Elizabeth Hughes, Duke University

A growing literature suggests that childhood socioeconomic disadvantage has long term, and perhaps cumulative, effects on health. However, little if any previous research examines race/ethnic differences in the association between childhood socioeconomic status and health. In the U.S., racial minorities are more likely to experience socioeconomic adversity than whites at all ages. In addition, the health effects of childhood economic adversity may be dissimilar for racial minorities than for majority whites. Thus differences in both exposure to childhood economic adversity and in the effects of this adversity may be very important to understanding race/ethnic differences in adult health. In this paper, I address these issues using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. I examine black-white differences in the impact of childhood socioeconomic status on the presence and age of onset of any of six chronic conditions; I also examine the prevalence and age of onset of cardiovascular disease.

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Presented in Session 133: Life Course Perspectives on Health: Effects of Early Environments