Understanding the role of socioeconomic status on children’s mental health, accounting for neighbourhood effects
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Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute / University of Groningen, Netherlands
University of Groningen, Netherlands
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A791
Background and Objective:
Socioeconomic inequalities and mental health are the main threats children face nowadays. While there is evidence that children living in deprived neighbourhoods face higher adverse exposures and poorer mental health outcomes, questions about the causality of this association remain. In the present study, we account for the endogeneity of socioeconomic difference and neighbourhood choice in the analysis to draw closer to the causal association between neighbourhood socioeconomic characteristics and children’s mental health.

Our sample (n=1802) is extracted from the Lifelines Cohort Study and is from children between the ages of 7 and 13. We apply Inverse Probability Weighting (IPW) and a two-step framework based on previous studies to control for endogeneity and self-selection, respectively. We then perform four different linear regressions, from less to more complex, to analyse the association between socioeconomic neighbourhood characteristics and internalising/externalising behaviour in young children.

We find evidence for an association between poorer neighbourhood socioeconomic characteristics and worse internalising and externalising behaviour problems in young children (7-13 years), even after adjusting for endogeneity and self-selection bias.

Our findings can be helpful for future preventive policies that aim to decrease the prevalence of mental health problems in children and adolescents, as they provide information on the role of the neighbourhood on children’s mental health and the underlying mechanisms of this association.