International Journal of Public Health and Epidemiology

 International Journal of Public Health and Epidemiology ISSN 2326-7291 Vol. 4 (8), pp. 195-197, August, 2015. © International Scholars Journals

Full length Research paper

The socioeconomic patterning of perceived stress and hair cortisol in Dutch 10-12 year olds

Hans Bosma1, Bart Golsteyn2, Danielle Groffen1, Trudie Schils2, Tobias Stalder3, Elena Syurina1, Lex Borghans2and Frans Feron 1 

1Maastricht University, Department of Social Medicine, CAPHRI, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands.

2 Maastricht University, Department of Economics, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands.

3 Technische Universität Dresden, Department of Psychology, Zellescher Weg 19, 01069 Dresden, Germany.

*Corresp. E-mail:

Accepted 28 June, 2015


The relation between low socioeconomic status and stress in 10 to 12 year olds was examined, using both subjective (self-reports) and objective (hair cortisol concentration) measures of stress. From 33 Dutch 10-12 year olds, data were collected (in April 2014) on the socioeconomic status of the parents (education of the father and mother, mean house value and mean income in the postal area of the child’s residence) and stress (reports of stress and self-efficacy and hair cortisol concentration in two segments of individual hair strands). Pearson (partial) correlation and linear regression analyses were used to examine the associations. Most correlations were in the expected direction. Adverse socioeconomic scores correlated with higher stress reports, lower self-efficacy, and higher cortisol levels. Due to the small sample, only two correlations were significant: low education of the mother and reports of both more stress and less self-efficacy in the child (Pearson correlation: 0.44 and–0.43, respectively (p-value = 0.01 for both correlations)). Although the sample was small, the findings clearly suggest a socioeconomic patterning of stress in Dutch 10 to 12 year olds. Adverse socioeconomic conditions, particularly related to the mother’s educational level, might predispose children to a heightened susceptibility to stress.

Key words: Children, hair cortisol, mother’s education, socio-economic background, stress.