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J Health Soc Behav. 2013 Mar;54(1):75-91. doi: 10.1177/0022146512475089. Epub 2013 Feb 20.

Early life course pathways of adult depression and chronic pain.

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  • 1University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA.


Applying cumulative inequality theory, this study examines the extent to which childhood socioeconomic disadvantage and maternal depression increase the risk of major depression and chronic pain in U.S. working-aged adults. Further, I assess whether low socioeconomic status amplifies the risk of adult depression and/or pain. Using data from the 2003 National Comorbidity Survey Replication (N=4339), I find that socioeconomic disadvantage and maternal depression during youth increases the risk of adult depression and/or chronic pain. The probability of having chronic pain increases in magnitude over the life course for adults whose parents have lower educational attainment relative to those with more highly educated parents. Childhood socioeconomic circumstances are not completely explained by adulthood socioeconomic status indicators. These findings help illustrate the far-reaching influence of childhood context on adult physical and mental health.

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