Subproject 1 Family and health inequalities in young people

Although the evidence of health inequalities among young people is convincing, little is known about the underlying mechanisms. The family represents a key institutional context from birth to young adulthood that has a strong influence on young people’s psychological, social and health-related development. Family characteristics, in terms of composition, structure, and relationship patterns, may affect the association between family socioeconomic position and health in young people.

However, which family characteristics and which combinations of family characteristics contribute to health inequalities is yet not fully understood. The aim of the subproject is to detect key drivers to explain socioeconomic inequalities in health in life stages from birth to early adulthood.

The subproject will address the following research questions:

  1. Do individual-level determinants contribute to the explanation of health inequalities among young people, and which determinants show the strongest relative contribution?
  2. Which compositional as well as proximal and distal family characteristics are associated with health inequalities in young people?
  3. Do compositional and contextual family characteristics mediate or moderate the association between family socioeconomic position and health in young people?
  4. Are compositional and contextual family characteristics linked with individual behavioural and psychosocial factors and, thus, contribute to the explanation of socioeconomic inequalities in young people’s health?
  5. Does the mediating role of family characteristics between SEP and health vary by age, gender or migration background?

To answer these research questions, scoping reviews and several empirical analyses will be conducted. The reviews aim to identify relevant family characteristics which existing research has associated with socioeconomic inequalities in health from pregnancy to young adulthood. Because of the varying role of the family over the life course, the empirical analyses are split up in two study sites, each having particular expertise in different life stages (Senftenberg; Berlin). The analyses are based on data from the Early childhood health in Bielefeld Study (BaBi), the Preschool Intervention Study (PRINS), the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS), and the Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics (pairfam), covering all life stages from pregnancy to early adulthood. The data sets provide a wide range of measures of health as well as contextual and compositional family characteristics. The research questions will be analysed using multilevel models. New evidence on how the family shapes health inequalities is essential for the development of interventions to reduce health inequalities. New findings about the specific effect of different family characteristics will facilitate new approaches for reducing socioeconomic inequalities in young people’s health.

SP1_1 (Senftenberg)

Department of Public Health, Faculty for Social Work, Health, and Music, Brandenburg University
of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg

  • Jacob Spallek, Prof. Dr.
  • Stephanie Hoffmann, M.Sc.
  • N.N.

SP1_2 (Berlin)

FG28 Social Determinants of Health, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin

  • Thomas Lampert, PD Dr.
  • Benjamin Kuntz, Dr.