The Long Arm of Adolescent Psychological Resources on Later Life Health: Evidence from the High School and Beyond (1980-2021)

Adolescent sitting alone on a park bench

Linking adolescent psychological resources to later life health, this study utilizes longitudinal data from the sophomore cohort of the High School and Beyond (1980-2021) to examine the crucial roles of early life psychological development on the healthy aging processes. The preliminary findings show that among four types of psychological resources, self-esteem, locus of control, positive and negative affect, adolescent self-esteem appears to have the greatest protective effects on individuals’ mental and physical health decades later in adulthood. Adolescent self-esteem and changes in self-esteem in early adulthood contribute to lower psychological distress and better self-rated health at age 60. The protection remains significant after adjusting family background and SES attainment in adulthood, indicating little evidence of mediating or confounding effects of SES. While adolescent locus of control shows a modest significant effect on self-rated health in the unadjusted model, the effect disappears after controlling family SES background, suggesting evidence of confounding.

Xiaowen Han, University of Minnesota; John Robert Warren, University of Minnesota; Eric Grodsky, University of Wisconsin; Chandra Muller, University of Texas

Thursday, April 18, 2024
Columbus, Ohio, USA