Lifetime trajectories of socio-economic adversity and their associations with psychosocial factors and attitudes towards social class

Almar A.L. Kok*, Martijn Huisman, Rachel Cooper, Theodore D. Cosco, Dorly J.H. Deeg, Diana Kuh, Mai Stafford

*Corresponding author for this work

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Scientific understanding of the associations between socio-economic adversity and other domains such as health and psychosocial functioning may be improved by employing extensive, prospective life course data to model inter-individual heterogeneity in socio-economic trajectories. This study applied Latent Class Growth Analysis to derive a typology of trajectories of socio-economic adversity, and compared the psychosocial profiles of the groups based on this typology. Data were used from 2,950 men and women participating in the MRC National Survey of Health and Development in Great Britain, ascertained prospectively since birth in 1946 until age 53. Trajectories of socio-economic adversity were based on indicators of occupational class, overcrowding, housing tenure, household amenities and financial hardship at ages 4, 11, 15, 36, 43 and 53, and education at age 26. Psychosocial factors included parental interest in education, self-management, neuroticism and attitudes towards social class and social mobility. Seven distinct trajectories were identified: persistent high; persistent low; strongly declining; gradually declining; increasing; early childhood; and relapsing high adversity. Key findings include that those with increasing adversity had high parental interest in education but low self-management and high neuroticism; that those with only early childhood adversity had a less favourable psychosocial profile than those with persistent low exposure; and that groups with declining adversity had relatively favourable attitudes towards education. Findings emphasise the need to consider socio-economic and personality mechanisms in the context of one another in order to better understand later life inequality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-104
Number of pages24
JournalLongitudinal and Life Course Studies
Issue number1
Early online date1 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Cumulative advantage
  • Latent class analysis
  • Personality
  • Social inequality
  • Social mobility


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