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The mediating effects of adulthood socioeconomic status and social support on adulthood impacts of childhood poverty in Japan


  • Oshio, Takashi
  • Umeda, Maki
  • Fujii, Mayu


Previous studies have provided evidence of the lasting impact of low socioeconomic status (SES) in childhood on adulthood health. However, the mediating pathway that links them is still under debate. In this study, we examine how educational attainment, household income, and social support mediate the impact of low SES in childhood on self-rated health and health-risk behaviors in adulthood on the basis of micro data collected from a survey in municipalities in and around the Tokyo metropolitan area in Japan (N = 3,265). As a comprehensive measure for childhood SES, we utilized a binary variable of childhood poverty constructed from the retrospective assessment of the living standard at the age of 15. We estimated recursive bivariate probit models that consisted of (1) the main equation to predict adulthood health outcome by childhood poverty and other variables and (2) the auxiliary equation to predict childhood poverty by parental SES. This method allowed us both to capture a wide dimension of childhood SES and to mitigate the potential recall bias to the retrospective assessment of the past living standard. We observed that educational attainment, household income, and social support, when combined, mediated 35-55 percent of the impact of childhood poverty on adulthood SRH and health-risk behaviors, confirming the substantial magnitude of mediation. However, a large proportion of the impact was unexplained by these mediating effects, underscoring the importance of social policies aimed at reducing risks of childhood poverty.

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  • Oshio, Takashi & Umeda, Maki & Fujii, Mayu, 2012. "The mediating effects of adulthood socioeconomic status and social support on adulthood impacts of childhood poverty in Japan," CIS Discussion paper series 538, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:hit:cisdps:538

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    1. Milligan, Kevin & Moretti, Enrico & Oreopoulos, Philip, 2004. "Does education improve citizenship? Evidence from the United States and the United Kingdom," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1667-1695, August.
    2. John F. Helliwell & Robert D. Putnam, 2007. "Education and Social Capital," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 1-19, Winter.
    3. Takashi Oshio & Shinpei Sano & Miki Kobayashi, 2010. "Child Poverty as a Determinant of Life Outcomes: Evidence from Nationwide Surveys in Japan," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 99(1), pages 81-99, October.
    4. Lemelin, Emily T. & Diez Roux, Ana V. & Franklin, Tracy G. & Carnethon, Mercedes & Lutsey, Pamela L. & Ni, Hanyu & O'Meara, Ellen & Shrager, Sandi, 2009. "Life-course socioeconomic positions and subclinical atherosclerosis in the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 444-451, February.
    5. Osler, Merete & Madsen, Mia & Nybo Andersen, Anne-Marie & Avlund, Kirsten & Mcgue, Matt & Jeune, Bernard & Christensen, Kaare, 2009. "Do childhood and adult socioeconomic circumstances influence health and physical function in middle-age?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(8), pages 1425-1431, April.
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    Childhood poverty; Self-rated health; health-risk behaviors; bivariate probit models; mediating effects;

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