Cross-national comparison of the link between socioeconomic status and emotional and behavioral problems in youths

Floor V.A. Van Oort, Jan Van Der Ende, Martha E. Wadsworth, Frank C. Verhulst, Thomas M. Achenbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Introduction: In previous longitudinal studies in the US, lower socioeconomic status (SES) was associated with more emotional and behavioral problems. It remains unclear whether these findings can be generalized outside the US, as different countries vary in their health care systems and prevention of psychopathology in youth. Therefore, we studied the same associations in a comparable sample in The Netherlands and directly tested for differences between the US and The Netherlands. Methods: The US (N = 833) and Dutch (N = 708) population samples were followed-up for 9 years. Age at baseline ranged from 8 to 16 years. Parents filled out behavior checklists. Results: Analyses revealed very few differences between the two countries. In both countries, SES predicted syndrome scores and cumulative prevalence rates for internalizing and externalizing problems (withdrawn and aggressive behavior) and for thought and attention Problems. The SES gradient in syndrome scores was stable over time. Only for withdrawn behavior, the gradient was larger in young adulthood. Conclusion: Although the health care systems differ between the US and The Netherlands, the socioeconomic disparities in emotional and behavioral problems were similar.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-172
Number of pages6
JournalSocial psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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