The Link Between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Financial Security in Adulthood

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John HarterORCID iD icon



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This study provides an evidence-based link between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and adult financial wellbeing. Drawing on a comprehensive financial wellbeing framework that was developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, we analyze data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a survey designed primarily to measure health behaviors and outcomes, but which also asks about financial wellbeing aspects such as food and housing security. We use ordered probit analysis to investigate how respondents’ self-reported levels of food security and housing security are influenced by demographics that include remembered ACEs and find that, at various income levels, financial stress in adulthood is related to childhood trauma. This interdisciplinary approach to studying financial outcomes extends work in public health and psychology that establishes a link between ACEs and adult physical and mental health measures. The finding is timely as policy makers craft responses to global public health, financial, and other shocks. Recognizing this link between ACEs and adult financial wellbeing provides additional evidence that educators, therapists, social workers, and other professionals should collaborate and develop integrated practices to prevent or reduce ACEs and promote resilience.

Journal Title

Journal of Family and Economic Issues

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