Early Socioeconomic Disadvantage and the Cumulative Impact of Socioeconomic Status over the Life Course on Adult Health

Amélie Quesnel-Vallée, Duke University

SES is hypothesized to affect health over the life course in two ways. First, SES is thought to have cumulative effects on health, regardless of when adversity is experienced in the life course. In addition to those cumulative effects, it is argued that the experience of adverse socioeconomic conditions early in the life course is more detrimental to adult health than later disadvantage, since it is reflected in lower education opportunities, which in turn restrict achieved status and health in adulthood. Using data from the NLSY79, this study will therefore examine both the cumulative impact of life course socioeconomic status to health as well as the moderating contribution of early socioeconomic status at different life stages to this relationship. Findings suggest that SES does have cumulative effects on health through the life course and that individuals who experienced poverty in late adolescence have a higher return to employment.

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Presented in Session 129: SES and Health across the Life Course