Childhood adversities and educational attainment in young adulthood: the role of mental health problems in adolescence
Purpose. The aims of this study were to examine whether the association between childhood adversities and educational attainment in young adulthood can be explained by mental health problems in adolescence and whether associations and pathways differ for boys and girls. Methods. Data were used of 2,230 participants from the Tracking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey, a Dutch prospective cohort study with a 9-year follow-up. Childhood adversities were measured at age 11 years, mental health problems (i.e., externalizing, internalizing and attention problems with Youth Self-Report) at age 16 years, and educational attainment at age 19 years. Structural equation modeling was performed to analyze the data, overall and stratified by gender. Results. Only among boys, childhood adversities were associated with low educational attainment in young adulthood. Externalizing problems in adolescence explained 5% of the association between childhood adversities and educational attainment. Furthermore, for both boys and girls, externalizing problems in adolescence had a direct effect on educational attainment in young adulthood. Conclusions. Among boys, childhood adversities are associated with poorer educational outcomes of young adults. A part of this association runs via adolescent externalizing problems. The results suggest that boys, compared with girls, are less capable to cope with childhood adversities. Monitoring of exposed boys to childhood adversities is of utmost importance.
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