Carnegie Mellon University

Childhood Socioeconomic Status (PCS2, PCS3)

Two of the cold studies—PCS2 and PCS3—included retrospective measures of participant socioeconomic status during childhood and adolescence (hereafter referred to simply as childhood SES).  PCS2 included two objective measures of childhood SES:  mother’s and father’s respective educational attainments and parental housing tenure throughout the participant’s childhood and adolescence.  In addition to these 2 measures, the Childhood Interview administered in PCS3 included several items pertaining to other traditional and nontraditional indices of childhood SES.  These items are described in more detail below.  Childhood SES was assessed in PCS2 during the baseline screening physical exam which took place 7 to 8 weeks pre-quarantine (see PCS2 Trial Outline); and in PCS3 on Quarantine Day 0 (see PCS3 Trial Outline).

Measures Assessed in PCS2 and PCS3

Parent Education

For each parent, participants were asked to choose which of 9 response options (ranging from 1 = didn’t finish high school to 9 = doctoral degree) best described that parent’s highest level of educational attainment.  In PCS2, the reference period was “when you were a child”.  In PCS3, participants were asked for information about their mother’s and father’s educational attainments with specific reference to three ages:  age 5, age 10, and age 15.

Parent Home Ownership

For each year of their childhood and adolescence (i.e., from 1 year of age to 18 years of age), participants reported whether their parents owned the home in which they lived (including paying a mortgage).

Measures Assessed in PCS3 Only

Table 1 displays items pertaining to SES that were asked for each year during respondents’ childhoods through age 18 (including the parent home ownership items described above).  Also included in the table are summary variables that were computed from the raw data.  

Childhood SES Table 1

In addition to the items described in Table 1, participants also responded to several questions related to childhood SES that were asked with the specific reference periods of age 5, age 10, and age 15:

  • Did you take any “out of town” vacations with your family? (yes/no)
  • Did you have a dental check-up that year? (yes/no)
  • Did you have a regular physician when you were ___ years old? (yes/no)
  • Did you have a newspaper delivered to your home? (yes/no)

Participants also were asked to estimate how often their family had moved during each of three periods during their childhood:  ages 1-5 years, ages 6-14 years, and ages 15-18 years.  For each time period, participants selected from the following response options:  never, at least 1 time, at least 2 times, and more than 2 times.  

At this time, no specific scoring methods have been derived for these variables.