American Sociological Association

Testing Life Course Models Whereby Juvenile and Adult Adversity Combine to Influence Speed of Biological Aging

The present study extends prior research on the links between social adversity and aging by employing more comprehensive measures of adversity and a new gene expression index of aging. Hierarchical regression and 20 years of data from a sample of 381 black Americans were used to test models regarding the impact of social adversity on speed of aging. Consistent with the early life sensitivity model, early adversity continued to predict accelerated aging after controlling for adult adversity. Contrary to the pathway model, adult adversity was not related to aging following controls for early adversity. The cumulative stress model received partial support as high adversity during adulthood amplified the effect of early adversity on aging. Finally, consonant with the social change model, low adversity during adulthood buffered the effect of early adversity on aging. These findings held after controlling for health behaviors such as smoking, diet, and exercise.

Authors

Ronald L. Simons, Man-Kit Lei, Steven R. H. Beach, Leslie Gordon Simons, Ashley B. Barr, Frederick X. Gibbons, and Robert A. Philibert

Volume

60

Issue

3

Starting Page

291

Ending Page

308