Why socioeconomic status affects the health of children a psychosocial perspective

Edith Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


This article provides an overview of research on socioeconomic status (SES) and physical health in childhood. SES has a gradient relationship with children's health, such that for each incremental increase in SES, there is a comparable benefit in children's health. In this article, I discuss psychosocial mechanisms underlying this association and argue that it is important to utilize knowledge about how the relationship between SES and health changes with age to inform a developmentally plausible search for mediators of this relationship. Furthermore, SES at different points in a child's lifetime may have different effects on health. I advocate an interdisciplinary approach to searching for mediators that would allow researchers to understand how characteristics of society, the neighborhood, the family, and the individual child are involved in the processes linking SES and children's health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-115
Number of pages4
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2004


  • Children's health
  • Psychosocial
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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