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Socioeconomic Status and Child Mental Health: The Role of Parental Emotional Well-Being and Parenting Practices

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Tormod Boe, Borge Sivertsen, Einar Heiervang, Robert Goodman, Astri J. Lundervold, Mari Hysing

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-715
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014

King's Authors


This study examined the role of parental emotional well-being and parenting practices as mediators of the association between familial socioeconomic status (SES) and child mental health problems. The sample included 2,043 5th-7th graders (50.7 % female) participating in the second wave of the Bergen Child Study. Children completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, parents reported family economy and education level, emotional well-being (measured with the Everyday Feelings Questionnaire), and the use of negative disciplinary and affirmative parenting practices (measured using the Family Life Questionnaire). Path analyses were conducted to examine the associations between SES and externalizing and internalizing problems. Results supported a model where family economy was associated with externalizing problems through parental emotional well-being and parenting practices, whereas maternal education level was associated with externalizing problems through negative discipline. The direct association between paternal education level and externalizing problems was not mediated by parenting. For internalizing problems, we found both direct associations with family economy and indirect associations with family economy through parental emotional well-being and parenting. The results suggest that parental emotional well-being and parenting practices are two potential mechanisms through which low socioeconomic status is associated with child mental health problems.

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