Socioeconomic Status in Childhood and Health After Age 70: A New Longitudinal Analysis for the U.S., 1895-2005
The link between circumstances faced by individuals early in life (including those encountered in utero) and later life outcomes has been of increasing interest since the work of Barker in the 1970s on birth weight and adult disease. We provide such a life course perspective for the U.S. by following 45,000 U.S.-born males from the household where they resided before age 5 until their death and analyzing the link between the characteristics of their childhood environment – particularly, its socioeconomic status – and their longevity and specific cause of death. Individuals living before age 5 in lower SES households (measured by father’s occupation and family home ownership) die younger and are more likely to die from heart disease than those living in higher SES households. The pathways potentially generating these effects are discussed.
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This paper was revised on December 5, 2011