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Scientific article
English

Early-life socioeconomic circumstances explain health differences in old age, but not their evolution over time

Published inJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health, vol. 73, no. 8, p. 703-711
Publication date2019
Abstract

Background: Early-life socioeconomic circumstances (SEC) are associated with health in old age. However, epidemiological evidences on the influence of these early-life risk factors on trajectories of healthy ageing are inconsistent, preventing drawing solid conclusion about their potential influence. Here, to fill this knowledge gap, we used a statistical approach adapted to estimating change over time and an outcome-wide epidemiology approach to investigate whether early-life SEC were associated with the level of and rate of decline of physical, cognitive and emotional functioning over time. Methods: We used data on more than 23 000 adults in older age from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, a 12-year large-scale longitudinal study with repeated measurements of multiple health indicators of the same participants over time (2004 –2015, assessments every 2 years). Confounder-adjusted linear growth curve models were used to examine the associations of early-life SEC with the evolution of muscle strength, lung function, cognitive function, depressive symptoms and well-being over time. Results: We consistently found an association between early-life SEC and the mean levels of all health indicators at age 63.5, with a critical role played by the cultural aspect of disadvantage. These associations were only partly explained by adult-life SEC factors. By contrast, evidences supporting an association between early-life SEC and the rate of change in health indicators were weak and inconsistent. Conclusions: Early-life SEC are associated with health in old age, but not with trajectories of healthy ageing. Conceptual models in life course research should consider the possibility of a limited influence of early-life SEC on healthy ageing trajectories.

Keywords
  • Ageing trajectories
  • Early life
  • Health status
  • Healthy ageing
  • Socioeconomic factors
Citation (ISO format)
CHEVAL, Boris et al. Early-life socioeconomic circumstances explain health differences in old age, but not their evolution over time. In: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2019, vol. 73, n° 8, p. 703–711. doi: 10.1136/jech-2019-212110
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ISSN of the journal0143-005X
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