Childhood psychological disorders can reduce the ability to have a career and earn as an adult, a new study has revealed.
People who suffer from childhood conditions such as depression and substance abuse are less likely to be married, attain less education and see their income reduced by about 20 percent over their lifetimes, according to findings published online by the journal Social Science and Medicine.
"This study shows childhood psychological disorders can cause significant long-lasting harm and can have far-reaching impact on individuals over their lifetimes," said James P. Smith, the study's lead author and corporate chair of economics at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "Our findings illustrate what the enormous potential might be of identifying and treating these problems early in life."
Researchers examined information from a large study that has followed American families for more than 40 years and found evidence that the impact of childhood psychological problems have lasting impact across many measures of economic success.
Researchers also found that people who reported childhood psychological problems were 11 percentage points less likely to marry than their siblings who did not suffer such problems.
Even when people in the group do marry, the income earned by their spouse is lower than seen among other couples.
People who reported psychological problems during childhood on average reported about half a year less of schooling than those who did not report problems. The schooling differences were greater among those who reported drug or alcohol problems.
"Not all of the people who have psychological problems during childhood will carry these problems into adulthood," said Smith. "But they are 10 to 20 times more likely than others to have these shortfalls during adulthood. There clearly are large economic costs during adulthood caused by childhood psychological conditions."
The results in the study are drawn from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the largest ongoing study of American families.