, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 87–107 | Cite as

The long arm of childhood: The influence of early-life social conditions on men’s mortality

  • Mark D. HaywardEmail author
  • Bridget K. Gorman


Increasingly, social scientists are turning to childhood to gain a better understanding of the fundamental social causes of adult mortality. However, evidence of the link between childhood and the mortality of adults is fragmentary, and the intervening mechanisms remain unclear. Drawing on the National Longitudinal Survey of Older Men, our analysis shows that men’s mortality is associated with an array of childhood conditions, including socioeconomic status, family living arrangements, mother’s work status, rural residence, and parents’ nativity. With the exception of parental nativity, socioeconomic-achievement processes in adulthood and lifestyle factors mediated these associations. Education, family income, household wealth, and occupation mediated the influence of socioeconomic status in childhood. Adult lifestyle factors, particularly body mass, mediated the effects of family living arrangements in childhood, mother’s work status, and rural residence. Our findings bring into sharp focus the idea that economic and educational policies that are targeted at children’s well-being are implicitly health policies with effects that reach far into the adult life course.


Household Head Adult Mortality Childhood Condition National Longitudinal Survey Childhood Circumstance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Population Research Institute and Department of SociologyPenn State UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyRice UniversityUSA
  3. 3.Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Texas School of Public HealthUSA

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