Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Research report
Heterogeneity in the association between socioeconomic position in early life and adult self-rated health in two birth cohorts of Spanish adults
  1. Enrique Regidor1,2,
  2. Cruz Pascual1,
  3. David Martínez1,
  4. Paloma Ortega1,
  5. Paloma Astasio1,
  6. María E Calle1
  1. 1Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  2. 2CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Barcelona, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Enrique Regidor, Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Ciudad Universitaria, Madrid 28040, Spain; enriqueregidor{at}


Background The purpose of this work was to evaluate the association between socioeconomic circumstances in early life and poor self-rated health in adulthood, and to determine whether this association varies depending on birth cohort.

Methods Using data from the 2005 Living Conditions Survey carried out in a Spanish population sample, separate analyses were made for persons born between 1941 and 1959 who lived their childhood and adolescence in a period marked by absence of economic growth in Spain, and those born between 1960 and 1980. The authors estimated of the relation of financial difficulties in adolescence, occupation of father, education of father and education of mother with poor self-reported health, adjusted for the measures of socioeconomic position in adulthood. Also evaluated was the possibility of interaction between early and adult socioeconomic position and the cumulative effect of low socioeconomic position across the life course.

Results In the two cohorts, the presence of financial difficulties in adolescence showed an association with an increased risk of poor self-rated health; in contrast, the relation of occupation and education of parents with poor self-rated health varied depending on the birth cohort and gender of the study subjects. The effect of family financial situation was shown to accumulate over the life course, whereas the effect of socioeconomic position across the life course was heterogeneous when occupation and education of parents were used.

Conclusion The importance of financial difficulties in the household has probably not varied over time; in contrast, the heterogeneity of the findings regarding occupation and education of parents suggests that the importance of these indicators and, consequently, their aetiological pathways may differ depending on the gender and birth cohort of the study subjects.

  • Father's education
  • father's occupation
  • financial difficulties in early life
  • mother's education
  • self-rated health
  • social epidemiology
  • social factors
  • social mobility
  • socioeconomic

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.