Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Childhood and adult socioeconomic position interact to predict health in mid life in a cohort of British women

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Daniel Nettle, Professor Melissa BatesonORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Background. Low childhood socioeconomic position (cSEP) is associated with pooreradult health, even after adult socioeconomic position (aSEP) is adjusted for. However,whether cSEP and aSEP combine additively or non-additively in predicting adult healthis less well studied. Some evidence suggests that the combination of low cSEP and lowaSEP is associated with worse health than would be predicted from the sum of theirindividual effects.Methods. Using data from female members of the British National Child DevelopmentStudy cohort, we developed continuous quantitative measures of aSEP and cSEP, andused these to predict self-rated health at ages 23, 33, and 42.Results. Lower aSEP predicted poorer heath at all ages. Lower cSEP predicted poorerhealth at all ages, even after adjustment for aSEP, but the direct effects of cSEP weresubstantially weaker than those of aSEP. At age 23, the effects of cSEP and aSEP wereadditive. At ages 33 and 42, cSEP and aSEP interacted, such that the effects of low aSEPon health were more negative if cSEP had also been low.Conclusions. As women age, aSEP and cSEP may affect their health interactively. HighcSEP, by providing a good start in life, may be partially protective against later negativeimpacts of low aSEP. We relate this to the extended `silver spoon' principle recentlydocumented in a non-human species.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Nettle D, Bateson M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PeerJ

Year: 2017

Volume: 5

Pages: e3528

Online publication date: 29/06/2017

Acceptance date: 09/06/2017

Date deposited: 30/06/2017

ISSN (electronic): 2167-8359

Publisher: PeerJ, Ltd.


DOI: 10.7717/peerj.3528


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name
European Union’s Horizon 2020