Money, peers and parents: Social and economic aspects of inequality in youth wellbeing.
Indicators of social and economic status are important health determinants. However, evidence for the influence of family socioeconomic status in adolescent wellbeing is inconsistent and during this period of development youth may begin to develop their own status positions. This study examined social and economic health inequalities by applying a multidimensional and youth-orientated approach. Using a recent (2010–2011) and representative sample of Swedish 14-year olds (n = 4456, 51 % females), the impact of family socioeconomic status, youth economic resources and peer status on internalizing symptoms and self-rated health were examined. Data was based on population register, sociometric and self-report information. Aspects of family socioeconomic status, youth’s own economy and peer status each showed independent associations, with poorer wellbeing observed with lower status. However, there were equally strong or even stronger effects of peer status and youth’s own economy than family socioeconomic status. Lower household income and occupational status were more predictive of poor self-rated health than of internalizing symptoms. The findings suggest that youth’s own economy and peer status are as important as family socioeconomic status for understanding inequalities in wellbeing. Thus, a focus on youth-orientated conceptualizations of social and economic disadvantage during adolescence is warranted.