Childhood poverty impacts well-being in middle age, study shows

child poverty

Experiencing poverty in childhood has a particular impact on well-being 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 well-being once they reached the age bracket of 41–65.

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

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 U.K. adults.

Lead author Professor Karyn Morrissey said, “Our research adds to the evidence that childhood is a critical period for well-being 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 well-being in adulthood found in this study is particularly concerning as levels of child poverty increase in the U.K.”

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