Psychological Distress in Mid-Life in the 1958 and 1970 Cohorts: The Role of Childhood Experiences and Behavioural Adjustment

George B. Ploubidis, University of London
Matt Brown, University College London
Alissa Goodman, University College London
Alice Sullivan, University College London

This paper addresses the levels of psychological distress experienced in mid-life (at age 42) by men and women born in 1958 and 1970, using two well known population based UK birth cohorts (NCDS and BCS70). Comparing these cohorts born 12 years apart, we ask whether psychological distress has increased, and if so whether this increase can be explained by differences between the cohorts in their childhood conditions, including differences in their social and emotional adjustment during adolescence. We observed between cohort differences with respect to psychological distress between the NCDS and BCS70 cohorts at age 42. These differences were more pronounced in men, with the magnitude of the effect being twice as strong compared to women. For both men and women it appears this effect is partly due to birth, parental and child characteristics, since these factors accounted for 15% of the effect in men and 28% in women.

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Presented in Session 190: Life Course Approaches to Health and Mortality