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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Perceived Social Status and Adolescent Health and Risk Behaviors: A Systematic Review


Although the inverse graded relationship between social class and infant, child, and adult health is well established, this gradient is inconsistent and understudied among adolescents. The empirical inquiry into health inequalities among adolescents is of particular significance because health in adulthood is strongly influenced by early life circumstances. Current research suggests that social stratification as reflected by subjective social status may be an important determinant of adolescents’ health independent of traditional objective social class indicators. The following article is a systematic review of the subjective social class-adolescent behavior and health relationship. It highlights the known dimensions of subjective social position and health, and the large gaps in the scientific understanding of the determinants of adolescent health. Suggested future research directions are discussed.

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