The long arm of childhood circumstances on health in old age: Evidence from SHARELIFE

Pakpahan, Eduwin, Hoffmann, Rasmus and Kröger, Hannes (2017) The long arm of childhood circumstances on health in old age: Evidence from SHARELIFE. Advances in Life Course Research, 31. pp. 1-10. ISSN 1040-2608

1-s2.0-S1040260816300569-main.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.

Download (524kB) | Preview
Official URL:


Socioeconomic status (SES) and health during childhood have been consistently observed to be associated with health in old age in many studies. However, the exact mechanisms behind these two associations have not yet been fully understood. The key challenge is to understand how childhood SES and health are associated. Furthermore, data on childhood factors and life course mediators are sometimes unavailable, limiting potential analyses. Using SHARELIFE data (N = 17230) we measure childhood SES and health circumstances, and examine their associations with old age health and their possible pathways via education, adult SES, behavioural risks, and labour market deprivation. We employ structural equation modelling to examine the mechanism of the long lasting impact of childhood SES and health on later life health, and how mediators partly contribute to these associations. The results show that childhood SES is substantially associated with old age health, albeit almost fully mediated by education and adult SES. Childhood health and behavioural risks have a strong effect on old age health, but they do not mediate the association between childhood SES and old age health. Childhood health in contrast retains a strong association with old age health after taking adulthood characteristics into account. This paper discusses the notion of the ‘long arm of childhood’ and concludes that it is a lengthy, mediated, incremental progression rather than a direct effect. Policies should certainly focus on childhood, especially when it comes to addressing childhood health conditions, but our results suggest other important entry points for improving old age health when it comes to socioeconomic determinants.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Socioeconomic status, Childhood, Old age health, Education, Mediators, Europe
Subjects: B900 Others in Subjects allied to Medicine
L700 Human and Social Geography
L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2020 10:00
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 11:35

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics