Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

New research from the University of Oxford, University of Helsinki and University of Eastern Finland, shows that low childhood family income does not increase later risks of psychiatric disorders and antisocial behaviours. The research is based on the Finnish population and is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Elder sister teaching her brother, sitting on floor

This study of the entire population of Finland born between 1986 and 1996, comprising of over 650,000 individuals, including nearly 427,000 siblings within the sample, has re-examined associations between childhood family income and later psychiatric disorders, substance misuse and violent crime. The consistency, strength and causal nature of these associations has been questioned by many scientists. 

 

Professor Seena Fazel, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, said:

 

'This study highlights the importance of high quality research designs in investigating links between childhood factors and later outcomes. The finding of no causal link between childhood family income and adult psychiatric disorders is potentially important as it suggests that simple interventions such as increasing family income on its own are unlikely to work – although this comes with the caveat that this work has been conducted in Finland, and replicates a previous family-based research study in Sweden.'  

University researcher, Amir Sariaslan, University of Helsinki, explains:

 

'For each $15,000 increase in family income at age 15 years, the risks of the outcomes were reduced by between 9% in severe mental illness and 23% in violent crime arrests. However, these associations were fully attenuated in the sibling-comparison models.'   

The researchers expected that the siblings who had been exposed to lower family income levels would have higher rates of the studied outcomes. 'This was not the case. We found that the siblings did not differ in their outcome rates regardless of the family income levels that they had been exposed to', said Professor Heikki Hiilamo, University of Helsinki. 

The study concludes that interventions that primarily focus on improving parental earnings will unlikely lead to reductions in the rates of psychiatric disorders, substance misuse and violent crime arrests in their offspring. Whereas low family income may potentially be helpful in identifying families at risk, any specific interventions should target causal risk factors and be tested in high quality trials.   

To read the full study (open access), No causal associations between childhood family income and subsequent psychiatric disorders, substance misuse and violent crime arrests: a nationwide Finnish study of >650,000 individuals and their siblings.

To read the full press release.

NIHR OXFORD HEALTH BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH CENTRE NEWS

Please follow the link below to read the news on the NIHR BRC website.

Similar stories

£36 Million Boost for AI Technologies to Revolutionise NHS Care

An Oxford project using artificial intelligence to develop digital triage tools for mental health clinicians (CHRONOS) is one of 38 projects support by the second wave of the NHS AI Lab's AI in Health and Care Award.

Treating Needle Fears May Reduce COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Rates by 10%

A new large-scale study shows that a quarter of the UK adult population screens positive for a potential injection phobia. These individuals were twice as likely to report that they were COVID-19 vaccine hesitant – they would put off getting vaccinated or never get the jab.

End-of-Life Care During COVID-19 Pandemic

The first national UK survey focused on those bereaved during the COVID-19 pandemic is published in Palliative Medicine. The survey findings inform important recommendations for service delivery of individualised, compassionate end-of-life care during a pandemic.

Reducing Ethnic Inequalities in Mental Health Systems

Senior leaders in the NHS and public sector mental health care report on progress to reduce ethnic inequalities in mental health systems as pledged through the Synergi Collaborative Centre's work.

Prioritising Wellbeing of Health and Social Care Professionals During COVID-19 Pandemic

The first paper to give voice to health and social care professionals providing end of life care during the pandemic is published in Palliative Medicine, led by researchers at the Universities of Oxford, Liverpool and Sheffield.

Childhood Abdominal Pain May Be Linked to Disordered Eating in Teenagers

New research shows that people who suffer from recurrent abdominal pain in childhood may be more likely to have disordered eating as teenagers.