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Childhood poverty impacts wellbeing in middle-age, study shows

Childhood poverty impacts wellbeing in middle-age, study shows

Experiencing poverty in childhood has a particular impact on wellbeing in adulthood around middle-age, according to new research.

A new study conducted at the University of Exeter has concluded that a person’s financial circumstances in childhood were significantly linked to their sense of wellbeing once they reached the age bracket of 41-65.

For adults aged 18-40, only their adulthood financial circumstances were linked to wellbeing, while for adults aged over 65., neither childhood nor adulthood finances were important to their wellbeing.

The findings, published in Applied Research in Quality of Life, emerge from more than 3,000 responses to the Smartline National Survey, made up of a representative sample of UK adults.

Lead author Professor Karyn Morrissey said: “Our research adds to the evidence that childhood is a critical period for wellbeing in middle age. This indicates that childhood circumstances can come back to “haunt” us in middle-age, which is often a key time in terms of parenting and career progression. We need to address childhood poverty as a matter of urgency, to help benefit the cycle of mental health from one generation to the next. The impact of financial hardship in childhood on wellbeing in adulthood found in this study is particularly concerning as levels of child poverty increase in the UK.”

The study is entitled ‘Estimating the Impact of Relative Financial Circumstances in Childhood on Adult Mental Wellbeing: a Mediation Analysis’, and is published in Applied Research in Quality of Life.

Date: 28 November 2022

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