Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 705–715 | Cite as

Socioeconomic Status and Child Mental Health: The Role of Parental Emotional Well-Being and Parenting Practices

  • Tormod Bøe
  • Børge Sivertsen
  • Einar Heiervang
  • Robert Goodman
  • Astri J. Lundervold
  • Mari Hysing


This study examined the role of parental emotional well-being and parenting practices as mediators of the association between familial socioeconomic status (SES) and child mental health problems. The sample included 2,043 5th-7th graders (50.7 % female) participating in the second wave of the Bergen Child Study. Children completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, parents reported family economy and education level, emotional well-being (measured with the Everyday Feelings Questionnaire), and the use of negative disciplinary and affirmative parenting practices (measured using the Family Life Questionnaire). Path analyses were conducted to examine the associations between SES and externalizing and internalizing problems. Results supported a model where family economy was associated with externalizing problems through parental emotional well-being and parenting practices, whereas maternal education level was associated with externalizing problems through negative discipline. The direct association between paternal education level and externalizing problems was not mediated by parenting. For internalizing problems, we found both direct associations with family economy and indirect associations with family economy through parental emotional well-being and parenting. The results suggest that parental emotional well-being and parenting practices are two potential mechanisms through which low socioeconomic status is associated with child mental health problems.


Bergen child study Socioeconomic status Internalizing and externalizing problems Family process 



We are grateful to the children and parents participating in the study. The authors are also grateful to two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments and suggestions.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tormod Bøe
    • 1
  • Børge Sivertsen
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Einar Heiervang
    • 5
  • Robert Goodman
    • 6
  • Astri J. Lundervold
    • 1
    • 7
  • Mari Hysing
    • 1
  1. 1.Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare, West, Uni Health, Uni ResearchBergenNorway
  2. 2.Division of Mental HealthNorwegian Institute of Public HealthBergenNorway
  3. 3.Uni Health, Uni ResearchBergenNorway
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryHelse Fonna HFHaugesundNorway
  5. 5.Institute of Clinical MedicineUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  6. 6.King’s College LondonInstitute of PsychiatryLondonUK
  7. 7.Department of Biological and Medical PsychologyUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

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