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