How do moving and other major life events impact mental health? A longitudinal analysis of UK children

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Research has suggested that children who move home report poorer mental health than those who remain residentially stable. However, many previous studies have been based on cross sectional data and have failed to consider major life events as confounders. This study uses longitudinal data from ALSPAC, a UK population based birth cohort study, and employs within-between random effect models to decompose the association between moving in childhood and poor mental health. Results suggest that while unobserved between-individual differences between mobile and non-mobile children account for a large portion of this association, within-individual differences remain and indicate that moving may have a detrimental impact upon subsequent mental health. There is heterogeneity in children’s response to moving, suggesting that a dichotomy of movers vs stayers is overly simplistic.

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