Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Childhood psychological problems have long-term economic and social impact, study finds

Date:
March 29, 2011
Source:
RAND Corporation
Summary:
Analyzing information from a group of British residents followed for 50 years, researchers have found that psychological problems experienced during childhood can have a long-lasting impact on an individual's life course, reducing people's earnings and decreasing the chances of establishing long-lasting relationships.

Psychological problems experienced during childhood can have a long-lasting impact on an individual's life course, reducing people's earnings and decreasing the chances of establishing long-lasting relationships, according to a new study.

Analyzing information about large group of British residents followed for five decades from the week of their birth, researchers found that family income was about one-fourth lower on average by age 50 among those who experienced serious psychological problems during childhood than among those who did not experience such problems.

In addition, childhood psychological problems were associated later in life with being less conscientious, having a lower likelihood of being married and having less-stable personal relationships, according to findings being published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.

"These findings demonstrate that childhood psychological problems can have significant negative impacts over the course of an individual's life, much more so than childhood physical health problems," said James P. Smith, one of the study's authors and a senior economist at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization. "The findings suggest that increasing efforts to address these problems early in children may have large economic payoffs later in life."

The other two authors of the study are Alissa Goodman and Robert Joyce of the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London.

Researchers found that the impacts of psychological disorders during childhood are far more important individually and collectively over a lifetime than childhood physical health problems. To illustrate, while family income at age 50 is reduced by 25 percent or more due to childhood mental problems, the reduction in family income on average is 9 percent due to major childhood physical health problems and only 3 percent due to minor childhood physical health problems. A central reason for the larger impact of childhood mental health problems is their effects take place much earlier in childhood and persist, researchers say.

The study is the latest in a growing body of evidence that shows psychological troubles early in life can have a long-term negative impact on earnings and social relationships. An earlier study co-authored by Smith showed that childhood psychological problems had a major impact on adult socioeconomic standing, costing $2.1 trillion over the lifetimes of all affected Americans. The results found for the American sample closely parallel those found for the British sample. Another source of concern is that in both America and Britain childhood mental problems appear to be increasing over time.

The latest study was conducted by analyzing information collected as part of the National Child Development Study, which has followed the lives of a single group of 17,634 children who were born in Britain during the first week of March in 1958.

Information has been collected from the group periodically, including surveys about childhood physical and psychological health through physician-led examinations, extensive parental questionnaires and teacher reports. The study includes detailed information about participants' parents, including socio-economic details and family circumstances such as whether there was instability in the home.

Researchers found that the negative economic impact of childhood psychological problems were apparent early in adulthood, with household income 19 percent lower among 23-year-olds who had psychological problems as a child as compared to those who did not.

Some of the smaller family income is caused by a lower likelihood that those who had childhood psychological problems will live with a partner as an adult. By age 50, people who had childhood psychological problems had a 6 percent lower probability of being married or cohabitating and an 11 percent lower chance of working.

The National Child Development Study includes assessments of participants' cognitive functioning and personality traits at age 50, allowing researchers to estimate the impact of childhood psychological problems in those areas.

Children with mental health issues showed reduced cognitive abilities as adults, possibly because their psychological problems make it difficult for them to concentrate and remember, researchers say. Childhood mental health problems also had a negative impact at age 50 on agreeableness and conscientiousness, two key measures of personality.

Researchers found childhood mental health problems also had significant effects on inhibiting social mobility across and within generations and reduced the number of distinct continuous jobs a person held as an adult. This is important because one way people increase their income is by changing jobs by moving on to better opportunities.

The research was supported by a grant from the U.S. National Institute on Aging and was conducted through the RAND Labor and Population program. The program examines issues involving U.S. labor markets, the demographics of families and children, social welfare policy, the social and economic functioning of the elderly, and economic and social change in developing countries.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by RAND Corporation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alissa Goodman, Robert Joyce, James P. Smith. The long shadow cast by childhood physical and mental problems on adult life. Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, 2011; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1016970108

Cite This Page:

RAND Corporation. "Childhood psychological problems have long-term economic and social impact, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110328151724.htm>.
RAND Corporation. (2011, March 29). Childhood psychological problems have long-term economic and social impact, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110328151724.htm
RAND Corporation. "Childhood psychological problems have long-term economic and social impact, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110328151724.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins