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Exploring the role of early-life circumstances, abilities and achievements on well-being at age 50 years: evidence from the 1958 British birth cohort study

Dodgeon, B; Patalay, P; Ploubidis, G; Wiggins, RD; (2020) Exploring the role of early-life circumstances, abilities and achievements on well-being at age 50 years: evidence from the 1958 British birth cohort study. BMJ Open , 10 (2) , Article e031416. 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-031416. Green open access

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Abstract

Objectives: We aim to examine the relative contributions of pathways from middle childhood/adolescence to mid-life well-being, health and cognition, in the context of family socio-economic status (SES) at birth, educational achievement and early-adulthood SES. Our approach is largely exploratory, suspecting that the strongest mediators between childhood circumstances and mid-life physical and emotional well-being may be cognitive performance during school years, material and behavioural difficulties, and educational achievement. We also explore whether the effects of childhood circumstances on mid-life physical and emotional well-being differ between men and women. / Setting/participants: Data were from the National Child Development Study, a fully-representative British birth cohort sample of 17 415 people born in 1 week in 1958. / Primary/secondary outcome measures: Our four primary mid-life outcome measures are: cognitive performance, physical and emotional well-being and quality of life. Our intermediate adult outcomes are early-adulthood social class and educational/vocational qualifications. Results: Using structural equation modelling, we explore numerous pathways through childhood and early adulthood which are significantly linked to our outcomes. We specifically examine the mediating effects of the following: cognitive ability at ages 7, 11 and 16 years; childhood psychological issues; family material difficulties at age 7 years: housing, unemployment, finance; educational/vocational qualifications and social class position at age 42 years. We find that social class at birth has a strong indirect effect on the age 50 outcomes via its influence on cognitive performance in childhood and adolescence, educational attainment and mid-life social class position, together with small direct effects on qualifications and social class position at age 42 years. Teenage cognitive performance has a strong positive effect on later physical health for women, while educational/vocational qualifications have a stronger positive effect on emotional well-being for men. / Conclusion: Our findings provide an understanding of the legacy of early life on multiple aspects of mid-life health, well-being, cognition and quality of life, showing stronger mediated links for men from childhood social class position to early adult social class position. The observed effect of qualifications supports those arguing that education is positively associated with subsequent cognitive functioning.

Type: Article
Title: Exploring the role of early-life circumstances, abilities and achievements on well-being at age 50 years: evidence from the 1958 British birth cohort study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-031416
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2019-031416
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ. This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute > IOE - Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Population Science and Experimental Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Population Science and Experimental Medicine > MRC Unit for Lifelong Hlth and Ageing
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10091198
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