Childhood friendships and the clustering of adverse circumstances in adulthood - a longitudinal study of a Stockholm cohort
Keywords:Childhood, friendship, living conditions, life course, cohort, cluster analysis
AbstractFriendships constitute a central feature of childhood, yet little is known about the developmental significance extending beyond childhood and adolescence. The aim of the present study was therefore to investigate the association between childhood friendships and adult outcomes. Since many outcomes in adulthood go hand in hand, the outcome pattern as a whole was targeted. Based on a longitudinal data material consisting of more than 14,000 individuals born in Stockholm in 1953, a cluster analysis of adult circumstances (1992-2007) was first conducted. Second, the association between three indicators of childhood friendships (1966) and the outcome profiles was analysed by means of multinomial regression analysis. The results indicated that children who lacked leisure time friends and a best friend in the school class had increased risks of ending up in the more adverse clusters as adults, whereas the opposite association was found for those who reported being solitary. The effect of childhood friendships was rather consistent across both single and multiple problems, suggesting that the disadvantages of being without friends in childhood do not accumulate over the life course to any large extent. Generally, the results were the same for males and females. It is concluded that childhood friendships are important for adverse circumstances in adulthood, for both genders. As far as the long-lasting effects of children's friendships involve varying access to social support, school-based interventions should compensate for the scarcity of support following the lack of childhood friends.
Authors who published with Longitudinal and Life Course Studies Volumes 1–9 agreed to the following terms:
1. Authors retain copyright and grant the Journal right of first publication with the work, simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
2. Following first publication in this Journal, Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal, provided always that no charge is made for its use.
3. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g. in institutional repositories or on their own website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work.