WEDNESDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- Adults who experienced
psychological problems during childhood tend to earn less money and
are less likely to establish long-lasting relationships, a new
Researchers analyzed data from 17,634 people in Britain who were
born in the first week of March 1958 and followed for 50 years.
By age 50, the average family income of people who had serious
psychological problems during childhood was about one-fourth lower
than those who did not experience mental health disorders when they
In contrast, family income at age 50 was only 9 percent lower
due to major childhood physical health problems and only 3 percent
lower due to minor childhood physical health problems.
The negative economic impact of emotional troubles in childhood
was evident early in adulthood. At age 23, the average family
income of those who had psychological problems during childhood was
19 percent lower than those who didn't have such issues.
One reason for the lower family income may be that adults who
had childhood psychological problems are less likely to live with a
partner. By age 50, these people were 6 percent less likely to be
married or cohabitating and 11 percent less likely to be working.
Psychological troubles in childhood were also associated with
less-stable personal relationships in general.
The researchers also found that adults with childhood
psychological problems were less agreeable and conscientious, two
key measures of personality.
The study appears in this week's issue of the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"These findings demonstrate that childhood psychological problems can have significant negative impacts over the course of an individual's life, much more so than childhood physical health problems," study author James P. Smith, said in a RAND Corp. news release. "The findings suggest that increasing efforts to address these problems early in children may have large economic payoffs later in life."
Smith is a senior economist at the Rand, a nonprofit research
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about
child and adolescent mental health.