A study published this week in JAMA Psychiatry indicates that babies born during an economic recession may face greater difficulties during their teen years than babies born during better economic times.
The study used data from about 9,000 people born between January 1, 1980 and December 31, 1984 who had participated in the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, when they were 12 to 17 years old. There were two economic recessions during those four years.
Researchers found that certain antisocial behaviors were more common in teens who were affected by high unemployment rates, across all socioeconomic levels. The risk for being arrested, joining a gang, smoking pot, stealing drinking and smoking were higher by 6 to 17% for teens who spent their youngest years in areas with high unemployment rates.
The question this study raises is whether the correlation between the economic recession and the teen behaviors will similarly affect babies born during this latest recession. “Although the past does not necessarily predict the future, it provides important lessons,” the researchers wrote. “Our findings suggest an important static risk factor that mental health professionals may want to take into account when dealing with children exposed to the current economic crisis. We hope that the study inspires mental health professionals to look for potential causes and explore interventions that can mitigate some of these long-term consequences.”