Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in final edited form as: J Health Soc Behav. 2013 March ; 54(1): 75–91. doi:10.1177/0022146512475089.

Author manuscript from NIH PubMed Central 2013 August 05;


© American Sociological Association 2013. Used by permission.


Applying cumulative inequality theory, this study examines the extent to which childhood socioeconomic disadvantage and maternal depression increase the risk of major depression and chronic pain in U.S. working-aged adults. Further, I assess whether low socioeconomic status amplifies the risk of adult depression and/or pain. Using data from the 2003 National Comorbidity Survey Replication (N=4339), I find that socioeconomic disadvantage and maternal depression during youth increases the risk of adult depression and/or chronic pain. The probability of having chronic pain increases in magnitude over the life course for adults whose parents have lower educational attainment relative to those with more highly educated parents. Childhood socioeconomic circumstances are not completely explained by adulthood socioeconomic status indicators. These findings help illustrate the far-reaching influence of childhood context on adult physical and mental health.