Impact of Child Sexual Abuse on Socioeconomic Attainment in Adulthood



      While child sexual abuse (CSA) victimization is linked to adverse mental and behavioral health outcomes, few studies have examined the association between CSA and socioeconomic attainment in adulthood, particularly for men. This study assesses the impacts of CSA victimization on socioeconomic outcomes in adulthood, separately for men and women.


      Analyses are based on the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health restricted use dataset. Adolescent to Adult Health is a nationally representative cohort of teenagers in grades 7–12 (1994–1995; N = 20,000) followed to ages 33–44 (2016–2018; N = 12,300). These analyses were based on N = 10,119 participants. We used propensity score weighting to equate on observed confounders of those who experienced CSA victimization with those who had not. All analyses were conducted in the R statistical software.


      In this analytical sample, 25.2% of women and 9.8% of men reported of having been sexually abused as a child. Results from propensity score weighted models showed that by their late 30s, men and women who experienced CSA had lower educational attainment, lower odds of being financially stable, and a decrease in household income compared to their peers. CSA was associated with lower odds of being employed among women only.


      Findings from this study suggest that men and women who survive CSA, experience socioeconomic disadvantages in adulthood relative to peers who did not experience CSA. Preventive programs and treatment and other services for survivors of CSA could positively impact individuals' economic productivity over the life course, reducing the individual and societal costs associated with CSA victimization.


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