CU Population Center

Institute of Behavioral Science

New research by Braudt, Tilstra, and Rogers highlights link between SES and childhood mortality

In a study recently published in Maternal and Child Health Journal, CUPC affiliate David Braudt (postdoc) and coauthors – including CUPC affiliates Andrea Tilstra and Rick Rogers – examine the association between parental socioeconomic status (SES) and all-cause and cause-specific mortality among children and youth (1-24) in the United States. While commonly found to be a cause of mortality, there is sparse evidence linking SES disparities to early life mortality in the 21st century US. As the authors point out, there had not been a study examining family-level SES disparities in early life US mortality for at least 20 years.

To address this gap, Braudt and colleagues analyzed data from the 1998 to 2015 National Health Interview Survey-Linked Mortality Files (NHIS-LMFs), specifically examining children and youth ages 1-17, followed through age 24. Using a variety of SES measures, the authors found that children and youth in families with lower levels of SES had significantly higher all-cause mortality risk compared to children and youth in higher SES families. For example, children/youth with fathers who did not graduate from high school experience a 41% higher risk of dying before turning 25 compared to those with fathers who completed college.

Braudt and colleagues’ study also discusses the implications their research has for public policy. As the U.S. continues to fall behind other high-income countries in health and mortality, the authors suggest more attention be given to the role family and household context have in shaping the health and well-being of American children.

This research highlights how efforts to improve the SES of American families, be it via educational attainment or poverty reduction programs, could potentially have spillover effects that help reduce early life mortality among American children.