Effect of Childhood Victimization on Occupational Prestige and Income Trajectories

Fernandez, Cristina A.; Christ, Sharon L.; LeBlanc, William G.; McCollister, Kathyrn E.; Arheart, Kristopher L.; Dietz, Noella A.; Fleming, Lora E.; Muntaner, Carles; Muennig, Peter A.; Lee, David J.


Violence toward children (childhood victimization) is a major public health problem, with long-term consequences on economic well-being. The purpose of this study was to determine whether childhood victimization affects occupational prestige and income in young adulthood. We hypothesized that young adults who experienced more childhood victimizations would have less prestigious jobs and lower incomes relative to those with no victimization history. We also explored the pathways in which childhood victimization mediates the relationships between background variables, such as parent’s educational impact on the socioeconomic transition into adulthood.


A nationally representative sample of 8,901 young adults aged 18–28 surveyed between 1999–2009 from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY) were analyzed. Covariate-adjusted multivariate linear regression and path models were used to estimate the effects of victimization and covariates on income and prestige levels and on income and prestige trajectories. After each participant turned 18, their annual 2002 Census job code was assigned a yearly prestige score based on the 1989 General Social Survey, and their annual income was calculated via self-reports. Occupational prestige and annual income are time-varying variables measured from 1999–2009. Victimization effects were tested for moderation by sex, race, and ethnicity in the multivariate models.


Approximately half of our sample reported at least one instance of childhood victimization before the age of 18. Major findings include 1) childhood victimization resulted in slower income and prestige growth over time, and 2) mediation analyses suggested that this slower prestige and earnings arose because victims did not get the same amount of education as non-victims.


Results indicated that the consequences of victimization negatively affected economic success throughout young adulthood, primarily by slowing the growth in prosperity due to lower education levels.


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Health Policy and Management
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March 6, 2015