Relocation in Childhood can Cause Big Problems Later in Life

Just as we found in our own study, a new scientific study published last year has found a link between moving and serious adverse consequences to health and well-being–but this time with a twist.  In this recent large scale, longitudinal study researchers discovered that people who move as children may go on to have serious adverse consequences much later on–in adulthood.  This not only has important implications for new hires and transfers who are parents, but for employers as well.  In our book and in our relocation stress mitigation training programs we offer tools and techniques to counter the potentially dangerous effects of relocation stress not only for employees, but for their entire family as well.  This holistic approach to relo-stress mitigation is critical for employers as it is common for new hires and transfers to have family members that accompany them in the move; and in terms of whether adaptation to the new environs is successful, the well-being of those family members is as important as the well-being of new employees.


Moving can be hazardous to your health and well being

Adverse effects for adults linked to residence changes during childhood


An extensive, long-term study of Danish children followed into adulthood shows that moving to a new home during childhood increases the likelihood of multiple adverse outcomes later in life. This was a unique residential mobility study of 1.4 million people tracked individuals from their 15th birthdays until their early forties.

Data were collected on all people born in Denmark from 1971 to 1997 documenting every residential childhood move from birth to 14 years. Each move was associated with the age of the child so that the impact of early-in-life moves could be contrasted with moves during the early teenage years. With a number of comprehensive national registries at their disposal, the team of researchers was able to measure and correlate subsequent negative events in adulthood, including attempted suicide, violent criminality, psychiatric illness, substance misuse, and natural and unnatural deaths…

The risk of adverse outcomes due to residential mobility during childhood was classified into three categories: self-directed and interpersonal violence: (attempted suicide, violent criminality), mental illness and substance misuse (any psychiatric diagnosis, substance misuse), and premature mortality (natural and unnatural deaths)…

Across all adverse outcomes studied, the highest risks were among individuals who moved frequently during early adolescence.  Statistical analysis was particularly robust. “Dose-response” relationships were evident for every outcome category and each additional move was associated with an incremental risk increase. For example, data analysis showed that risk increased with multiple moves at any age versus a single move, and that an even sharper spike in risk for violent offending was observed with multiple relocations within a single year. The attempted suicide risk increased steadily with rising age at the time of the move, and was markedly raised if multiple annual relocations occurred during early adolescence (12-14 years of age)…


“Childhood residential mobility is associated with multiple long-term adverse outcomes. Although frequent residential mobility could be a marker for familial psychosocial difficulties, the elevated risks were observed across the socioeconomic spectrum, and mobility may be intrinsically harmful…”


Roger T. Webb, Ph.D., Centre for Mental Health and Safety, University of Manchester (UK)


Source: Elsevier Health Sciences


Journal Reference:  Roger T. Webb, Carsten B. Pedersen, Pearl L.H. Mok. Adverse Outcomes to Early Middle Age Linked With Childhood Residential Mobility. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2016.04.011