Estimating the Impact of Relative Financial Circumstances in Childhood on Adult Mental Wellbeing: a Mediation Analysis

Karyn Morrissey*, Tim Taylor, Gengyang Tu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Previous research has indicated that the role of childhood circumstances on adult mental health is primarily mediated through adult socioeconomic circumstances. Using linear regression models and mediation analysis this paper examines whether childhood financial circumstances is associated with adult mental wellbeing and to what extent any association is explained by adult financial circumstances. Adjusting for age and highest education attainment, we found that childhood financial circumstances predict wellbeing in adulthood. However, stratifying by age (respondents aged 18–40, 41–65 and 66 years plus), a more complicated pattern of associations emerged with potential cohort and age effects emerging. Only adult financial circumstances significantly impact adult wellbeing in our youngest group, while neither childhood nor adult financial circumstances are significantly associated with wellbeing in the oldest age group (66 years plus). However, both childhood and adult financial circumstances were significantly associated with wellbeing in middle age, and this effect was mostly direct (OR-1.09: CI 95%: -1.63, -0.17) rather than indirect (OR-0.08: CI 95%: -0.17, -0.01). This research adds to the evidence base that childhood is a critical period for wellbeing in middle age (41–65 years). Previous research has found that subjective wellbeing plays an important role in physical and mental health outcomes in adulthood. 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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Research in Quality of Life
Pages (from-to)915–930
Publication statusPublished - 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Estimating the Impact of Relative Financial Circumstances in Childhood on Adult Mental Wellbeing: a Mediation Analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this