Table 5

 Early-life indicators of living conditions

IndicatorLocation, study designIndicators of SEP measuredCriteria
P, prospectively; R, retrospectively; SEP, socioeconomic position.
Whether family lived on a farm, and size of farm, at age 10 yearsFinland, Longitudinal Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study68–70RValidity:Overcrowding reflects childhood circumstances that may be directly or indirectly connected to health117Living in council housing has been shown to have a stronger association with midlife psychological distress among women than father’s occupation and overcrowding112Relevance:These indicators are culturally, geographically and historically specific British data showed a secular change in material resources over time A 1970 cohort was more likely than a 1958 cohort to own their own home, and less likely to be overcrowded or share amenities119Reliability:More likely to be recalled accurately than categories such as parents’ education or occupation Life grid methods using a temporal reference system have been shown to improve recall120Lifegrid method may improve reliability of recalled informationDeconstructionComposite or summary indicators may provide less information about the causal nature of associations between SEP and health
Number of rooms and number of people in the homeFinland, Helsinki University Central Hospital Cohort84P
Overcrowding (ratio of people to number of rooms in household)1970 British Birth Cohort77P
Overcrowding when participant aged 4 years1946 British Birth Cohort71,112P
Overcrowding when participant aged 11 and 16 years1958 British Birth Cohort78P
Overcrowding when participant born and aged 13 yearsBrazil, Cross-sectional Cianorte Survey of School Children64,65P
Household amenities (sole use of bathroom, toilet, hot water)1970 British Birth Cohort77P
Lack of hot water in house when participant aged 11 and 16 years1958 British Birth Cohort78P
Presence of toilet inside house when participant born and aged 13 yearsBrazil, Cross-sectional Cianorte Survey of School Children64,65P/R
Presence of toilet inside house before age 16 yearsBritain, Longitudinal Whitehall Study35R
Car ownership of family when participant born and aged 13 yearsBrazil, Cross-sectional Cianorte Survey of School Children64,65P/R
Car ownership of family before age 16 yearsBritain, Longitudinal Whitehall Study35R
Family access to a car during childhoodBritish Women’s Heart and Health Study, cross-sectional98,99R
Housing tenure1970 British Birth Cohort77P
Housing tenure when participant aged 4 years1946 British Birth Cohort71,112P
Housing tenure when participant born and aged 13 yearsBrazil, Cross-sectional Cianorte Survey of School Children64,65P/R
Availability of piped water to house when participant born and aged 13 yearsBrazil, Cross-sectional Cianorte Survey of School Children64,65P/R
Type of material used to build house when participant born and aged 13 yearsBrazil, Cross-sectional Cianorte Survey of School Children64,65P/R
Childhood household amenities (living in a house with a bathroom, living in a house with a hot water supply, sharing a bedroom)British Women’s Heart and Health Study, cross-sectional98,99R
Housing conditions at birth and ages 5 and 10 years based on overcrowding, lack of hot water, shared toilet, and dampness or poor repair of houseBritain Newcastle Thousand Families Cohort Study102,103P
Material home conditions at age 4 years was an aggregate variable based on state of repair of house, age of house, crowding, cleanliness of house, cleanliness of participant, and condition of participant’s shoes and clothes1946 British Birth Cohort71,72P
Life-grid method to collect retrospective personal, residential and occupational histories. Lifetime exposures to a range of generally accepted health hazards, including atmospheric pollution, residential damp, occupational fumes and dusts, physically arduous work, lack of autonomy, cigarette smoking and inadequate nutrition during childhood and adulthood were estimated from details of household, residential, occupational and smoking histories.Britain Boyd Orr Cohort121–124R
Family amenity score in childhood up to age 10 years (presence of hot water tap and bathroom in family home, whether they shared a bedroom, car ownership)British Regional Heart Study, longitudinal100R
Material standard of living at age 15 years (owner occupied accommodation, owned car, owned summer cottage or second house in the countryside)Danish 1958 cohort of men51P
Housing conditions at age 0–19 years (Type of dwelling, status of home ownership, number of persons per room, telephone in dwelling, toilet or bath inside dwelling)Norway Census data cohort125P
Characteristics of place of residence in 1939 including whether area was depressed, population density, percentage of population in manual work, proportion of population in overcrowded housing, unemployment rate in areaBritain Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study for England and Wales126P