London, Dec – Adults who experienced abuse and neglect in childhood are much more likely to have time off work due to long-term sickness and less likely to own their own homes when they reach middle age than their peers, new research has found.
The findings suggest that potential socioeconomic impact of child neglect and abuse may persist for decades.
Experiencing abuse and neglect in childhood can have lasting negative impacts on well-being.
“Our findings suggest that maltreated children grow up to face socioeconomic disadvantage. This is important because such disadvantage could in turn influence the health of individuals affected and also that of their children,” said lead researcher Snehal Pinto Pereira from University College London.
The researchers found that neglected children often had worse reading and mathematics skills in adolescence than their peers, which could hamper their ability to find work and progress in the job market.
“As well as highlighting the importance of prevention of maltreatment in childhood, our research identified poor reading and mathematics skills as a likely connecting factor from child neglect to poor adult outcomes,” Pereira said.
“This suggests that action is needed to improve and support these abilities in neglected children,” Pereira noted.
The research team followed the lives of 8,076 people from birth in 1958 until the age of 50 years, examining key socioeconomic indicators.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found adults who had been neglected in childhood were approximately 70 per cent more likely to have time off work due to long-term sickness and not own their home at 50 years, compared to their peers who had not suffered from child abuse and neglect.
A person’s economic circumstances at the age of 50 are important because this is close to peak earning capacity in Britain and poor living standards at this age can signal hardship and associated ill health during old age.