Research corner

3rd April 2015 at 01:00

`Effect of Childhood Victimization on Occupational Prestige and Income Trajectories' by Fernandez, C A, Christ, S L, LeBlanc, W G et al

Plos One, February 2015


This American study links income, education level and "occupational prestige" to instances of childhood violence. Researchers found that participants who suffered from abuse as children earned less and climbed the career ladder more slowly than their unaffected peers.

The 10-year study had 8,901 participants, the youngest of whom were 14 at the start. They were each measured annually in five areas: as victims of violent crime, bullying, gun violence, perceived school safety and threatened violence at school. More than 80,000 observations were made, with each participant given a "victimisation score" ranging from 0 to 7 based on each abusive experience. As a whole, participants were found to receive $301 (pound;201) less per year for each experience of violence.

Researchers also found that being victimised affected income growth in both genders. However, the women were better able to cope in positions of low professional prestige, with the men in similar positions floundering.

The study hypothesises that this may stem from the masculine tendency of "bottling up" problems and being unable to confront past trauma.

When men were able to work their way into prestigious jobs despite suffering from victimisation as children, the study argues that they did so by using previous abuse as an "inoculation tool", thus protecting themselves against future threats.

William Martin

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