Youth Psychological Problems Persist: Study

Children who had psychological problems have a greater likelihood of becoming adults who suffer money and relationship woes, said a British study published in the United States this week.

The analysis in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was based on information about a group of 17,634 children born in Britain in the first week of March 1958.

The group that had psychological problems by age 16, determined by the family reporting that a psychiatrist or psychologist had evaluated the child and found a “moderate” or “severe problem,” earned between 19 and 28 percent less as adults than those who were not deemed to have had such issues.

For comparison’s sake, children who had major physical health problems grew into adults that earned a family income that was an average of nine percent less than their healthy counterparts.

“By age 50, people who had childhood psychological problems had a six percent lower probability of being married or cohabitating and an 11 percent lower chance of working,” said the study.

Researchers also saw a negative impact by age 50 on the traits of agreeableness and conscientiousness among those who had childhood psychological problems.

“These findings demonstrate that childhood psychological problems can have significant negative impacts over the course of an individual’s life, much more so than childhood physical health problems,” said James Smith, one of the study authors and a senior economist at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research group.

“The findings suggest that increasing efforts to address these problems early in children may have large economic payoffs later in life.”

Earlier studies by Smith have showed similar results in Americans, and suggested that childhood psychological problems cost as much as US$2.1 trillion over the lifetimes of those affected.

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