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Health in Childhood and Social Inequalities in Health in Young Adults

C. Power, O. Manor, A. J. Fox and K. Fogelman
Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A (Statistics in Society)
Vol. 153, No. 1 (1990), pp. 17-28
Published by: Wiley for the Royal Statistical Society
DOI: 10.2307/2983094
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2983094
Page Count: 12
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Health in Childhood and Social Inequalities in Health in Young Adults
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Abstract

The role of childhood and adolescent health and development has been assessed as a potential explanation for later social class inequalities in health using longitudinal data from the 1958 cohort study. In early adulthood, general health (as self-rated by respondents) and emotional health (as measured by the malaise inventory) were generally poorer in lower social classes. Adjustment for a wide range of childhood health characteristics did not reduce class differences in health evident in early adulthood and were therefore considered to be relatively unimportant influences. Some reduction in the class differences did occur, however, when allowance was made for ill-health in adolescence. For example, odds of `poor' or `fair' rating of health at age 23 years in classes IV and V relative to classes I and II decreased from 2.52 to 2.26 in men and 3.39 to 3.08 in women after adjusting for school absence through ill-health at age 16. Adolescent health may contribute to class inequalities in health but preliminary consideration of other potential influences (socioeconomic circumstances and health-related behaviour) suggests that other factors may be relatively more important.

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