Adverse child experiences and socioeconomic status in a nationally representative sample of young adults


Suglia, Shakira F.; Clark, Cari J.; Link, Bruce; & Koenen, Karestan C. (2015). Adverse child experiences and socioeconomic status in a nationally representative sample of young adults. Society for Epidemiologic Research Annual Meeting. Denver, CO.


Introduction Recent studies have examined the consequences of adverse child experiences (ACEs) and both short and long term health outcomes. However, few studies have examined the relation between socioeconomic status (SES) during childhood and ACEs as well as the influence of ACEs on adult SES. Methods The study sample is part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a nationally representative of US high school adolescents (N=8676). Participants reported on their experiences of child neglect, physical and sexual violence, dating violence, other experiences of violence, homelessness, parental alcoholism, incarceration or death between waves 1 (1994-95, mean age 15) and 3 (2001-02, mean age 21) except for parental incarceration, which was assessed at wave 4 (2008-09, mean age 29). An ACE index was created as a sum of the 9 items and was truncated for analyses at 5 or more experiences. Childhood SES was characterized as, parental highest education level and occupational status. Adult SES was characterized as highest education level attained. Results Seventy percent of participants endorsed at least one ACE. Adjusted for age, race and gender, lower parental education and occupational status were associated with a higher number of ACEs. In binomial regression models adjusted for participant’s demographics and parental education, a dose-response effect was noted between the number of ACEs reported and the odds of having a High school education or less. Experiencing once ACE (OR 1.5 95%CI 1.2, 1.9 ), two (OR 2.2 95%CI 1.7, 2.9), three (OR 3.4 95%CI 2.4, 4.9), four (OR 6.4 95%CI 3.8, 10.9) or 5 or more (OR 7.4 95%CI 3.8, 14.4) was associated with higher odds of having a high school diploma or less as the highest education level attained compared to having a college degree. Conclusions Childhood SES is associated with ACEs. In turn, ACEs are associated with lower educational attainment in adulthood, independent of childhood SES.

Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

Society for Epidemiologic Research Annual Meeting


Suglia, Shakira F.
Clark, Cari J.
Link, Bruce
Koenen, Karestan C.

Year Published


City of Publication

Denver, CO

Reference ID