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Childhood and Adult Socioeconomic Conditions and 31-Year Mortality Risk in Women

Publication Abstract

Beebe, J., John W. Lynch, G. Turrell, S. Lustgarten, Trivellore Raghunathan, and George A. Kaplan. 2004. "Childhood and Adult Socioeconomic Conditions and 31-Year Mortality Risk in Women." American Journal of Epidemiology, 159(5): 481-490.

Links between low socioeconomic position and poor health are well established. Most previous research, however, has focused on middle-aged males and has relied on limited socioeconomic data, usually measured at one point over the life course. This paper examines all-cause, cardiovascular, and noncardiovascular mortality in women in relation to socioeconomic position at different stages of the life course. Information was collected in 1965, 1974, 1983, and 1994 and included recalled father's occupation and education as a measure of childhood socioeconomic position and the respondent's household income, education and occupation, and spouse's occupation from a sample of 3,087 women participating in the Alameda County Study. Cox regression models were used to estimate hazard ratios for risk of death. Lower childhood socioeconomic position was associated with an increased mortality due to cardiovascular disease (hazard ratio (HR) = 1.29, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.09, 1.54) but was unrelated to death due to other causes (HR = 0.97, 95% CI: 0.82, 1.15). Overall mortality was higher among women reporting the lowest level of education (HR = 1.17, 95% CI: 0.99, 1.39), but education was most strongly related to noncardiovascular disease-related deaths (HR = 1.41, 95% CI: 1.10, 1.81). Low household income was also associated with higher mortality, for both cardiovascular disease-related (HR = 1.47, 95% CI: 1.14, 1.91) and noncardiovascular disease-related (HR = 1.30, 95% CI: 1.03, 1.63) deaths. Both early and later life indicators of socioeconomic position contribute to increased mortality risk among socioeconomically disadvantaged women, but these effects appear stronger for cardiovascular mortality.

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