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date: 28 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

There is considerable evidence that stressful experiences in early life affect a wide array of physical health problems in adulthood. Although social demographic characteristics, such as gender, are important determinants of exposure and vulnerability to early life adversities, relatively little attention has been given to the role of gender in the associations between early adversity and adult health. This review summarizes theoretical and empirical studies that explore various gender differences in these relationships. A conceptual model is proposed outlining potential pathways that explain how and under what conditions early experiences might compromise the health of women relative to men in adulthood. Then, recent empirical work is presented to illustrate the conceptual model. Finally, ideas for future work are suggested to investigate different aspects of this model using multiple waves from the Midlife in the US study.

Keywords: gender, early life adversity, adult health, gender differences, Midlife in the US study

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