How is low parental socioeconomic status associated with future smoking and nicotine dependence in offspring?

A population-based longitudinal 13-year follow-up by Willy Pedersen and Tilmann von Soest

Scandinavian Journal of Public Health


Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, Early online publication, 1 December 2016.

DOI: 10.1177/1403494816680800


Aims: Low socioeconomic status (SES) characterizes smoking and nicotine dependence in adult samples. However, less is known about how parental SES is linked to smoking in offspring and the potential mechanisms at work.

Methods: A population-based longitudinal study (n=1380) from Norway was used. Participants were followed from their midteens
until their late 20s using survey and register data. Data were collected on parental education, parental smoking, educational aspirations and expectations, school grades and school-related conduct problems. Register data monitored education, unemployment and social welfare assistance. Risk factors for smoking and nicotine dependence were identified by means of multinomial logistic regression analyses. Mediation analyses were used to investigate the pathways between parental SES and future smoking. Results: Future smokers were recruited from families with low educational levels. Poor school grades, school dropout and low educational aspirations were also predictors. Unemployment and social welfare assistance additionally increased the risk. Parental smoking, no high school exam and welfare assistance were mediators between low parental education and high levels of nicotine dependence in young adulthood.

Conclusions: Socialization to smoking reflects a multifaceted process fuelled by low parental SES. However, parental influences may be
masked behind influences from schools or peers. Future research should try to capture the multiple sources of SES-related influence at work. Prevention strategies should target adolescents from low SES backgrounds, who orient towards the manual working class and who have problems entering the labour force.

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Published Dec. 5, 2016 3:15 PM - Last modified Dec. 5, 2016 3:39 PM