Long shadows of the past: The effect of childhood poverty on old age mental health
Six, E. (2023) Long shadows of the past: The effect of childhood poverty on old age mental health. INEQ Working Paper Series, 26. WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna.
This paper investigates the effect of childhood poverty on mental health outcomes in old age and analyses potential mitigating effects of self-perceived poverty and educational attainment. Based on SHARE data it uses a potential outcome approach with entropy balancing to address non-random exposure to poverty as well as gender and welfare-regime specific differences. The study finds a significant and substantial effect of childhood material deprivation on severe depression in late adulthood, with women in all welfare regimes being particularly vulnerable. Welfare regimes that are particularly family-centered and employment-based exacerbate these gender differences. Based on these results, policies aimed at reducing the incidence of major depressions should be addressing the root causes of childhood poverty and provide sufficient and universal social protection measures.