Age stereotypes and expectations about one’s own aging commence in childhood, while most research focuses on predictive associations with midlife cognition and health outcomes in later life. This study instead aims to examine adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) contributing to multiple measures of subjective age (SA) among Chinese older adults and test whether these relationships differ by household registration (hukou).
In a representative sample of Chinese older adults aged 60 and above from the 2018 China Longitudinal Aging and Social Survey (CLASS) (n=7,815), ordinary least squares (OLS) is used to examine the associations between ACEs and three facets of SA: felt age, look age, and self-defined aging standard.
Childhood starvation experience and limited healthcare access predict older felt age and look age, while parental death is associated with lower self-defined aging standard. Zooming in on hukou-specific associations shows that the dose-response relationship on older adults with rural hukou are particularly pronounced.
Findings provide empirical support for views of aging from a life-course perspective and highlight the enduring impact of ACEs for late-adulthood SA, as well as their differential influence on multiple indicators of SA. Interventions that focus on promoting health and development in childhood could potentially have effects beyond the childhood phase, and benefit for their positive aging attitude in later life.