Life Course Determinants of Poor Psycho-Social Health in Adulthood: Young Motherhood as a Mediating Pathway

Ann Berrington, University of Southampton
Riccardo Borgoni, University of Southampton
Roger Ingham, University of Southampton
Peter W.F. Smith, University of Southampton
Jim E. Stevenson, University of Southampton

This paper takes a life course approach, viewing an individual's health experience as an outcome of their family background and experiences in childhood and adolescence. Using a graphical chain model the paper investigates how young motherhood plays an independent role as a mediating pathway through which socio-economic disadvantage in childhood is associated with poor adult health. Prospectively collected data from the 1970 British birth cohort allow us to demonstrate the direct and indirect ways in which life course experiences are associated with later health status. Three measures of health status at age 30 are used: overall health, malaise, and psycho-social health measured by GHQ12. Young motherhood is found to be a key mediating factor in the development of socio-economic differentials in adult health, particularly the incidence of malaise. Relative health status as measured by GHQ12 is more affected by current circumstances and only indirectly related to past life course experiences.

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Presented in Poster Session 4: Aging