Childhood Socioeconomic Status and Late-Adulthood Health Outcomes in China: A Life-Course Perspective

Tao Zhou*, Richard J Harris , David J Manley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
78 Downloads (Pure)


The relationship between socioeconomic status and health has been studied widely across many western countries but the relationship is relatively underexplored in China. Using a life-course perspective, this paper examines the associations between six indicators of childhood socioeconomic status with classic late-adulthood health outcomes. The analysis uses logistic and Ordinary Least Square (OLS) regression models with data on life history and data from the most recent wave of CHARLS – a nationally representative survey of people aged 45 and older. The models demonstrate that unfavourable socioeconomic status in childhood is, in general, correlated with poorer health outcomes later in life, whereas a more socioeconomically advantaged childhood is associated with better health outcomes in middle and older age. However, for those individuals who were overweight in childhood, the advantaged socioeconomic status effect appears to increase the probability of remaining overweight when older. Furthermore, the indicators of current socioeconomic status as well as the interaction terms between childhood socioeconomic status and adulthood socioeconomic status were introduced, as most existing research in the world, including China, tends to only focus on the mediation effect of current socioeconomic status. The findings show that, among all the health outcomes in this research, only the associations between disability-related health variables and adulthood socioeconomic status are moderated by childhood socioeconomic status. These results indicate both homogeneity and heterogeneity in the impacts of childhood socioeconomic status on different health outcomes and also inform public policies in China with regard to population health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511–536
Number of pages26
JournalApplied Spatial Analysis and Policy
Issue number2
Early online date24 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Childhood
  • Socio-economic status
  • Health
  • Lifecourse
  • Public policies
  • China


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