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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Socioeconomic Status and Social Support: Social Support Reduces Inflammatory Reactivity for Individuals Whose Early-Life Socioeconomic Status Was Low.

  • Author(s): John-Henderson, Neha A
  • Stellar, Jennifer E
  • Mendoza-Denton, Rodolfo
  • Francis, Darlene D
  • et al.

Low socioeconomic status (SES) during childhood confers risk for adverse health in adulthood. Accumulating evidence suggests that this may be due, in part, to the association between lower childhood SES and higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Drawing from literature showing that low childhood SES predicts exaggerated physiological reactivity to stressors and that lower SES is associated with a more communal, socially attuned orientation, we hypothesized that inflammatory reactivity would be more greatly affected by cues of social support among individuals whose childhood SES was low than among those whose childhood SES was high. In two studies, we found that individuals with lower subjective childhood SES exhibited greater reductions in pro-inflammatory cytokine reactivity to a stressor in the presence of a supportive figure (relative to conditions with an unsupportive or neutral figure). These effects were independent of current SES. This work helps illuminate SES-based differences in inflammatory reactivity to stressors, particularly among individuals whose childhood SES was low.

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