Self-sufficiency at ages 27 to 33 years: Factors present between birth and 18 years that predict educational attainment among children born to inner-city families

Janet B. Hardy, Sam Shapiro, E. David Mellits, Elizabeth A. Skinner, Nan Marie Astone, Margaret Ensminger, Thomas LaVeist, Rosemary A. Baumgardner, Barbara H. Starfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Objectives. Some inner-city infants grow to be successful, self- sufficient adults. This study is designed to identify characteristics from early childhood that foster or impede favorable outcomes and are useful for formulation of public policy. Methods. Population: 2694 children (G-2s), born 1960 through 1965, to 2307 inner-city women (G-1s) enrolled in the Johns Hopkins Collaborative Perinatal Study. Data: 1) prospective observations (birth through 8 years) of neurologic and cognitive development, health, behavior, and family and neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics and 2) completed interviews with 1758 G-2s (age 27 to 33) and 1552 G-1s, bridging the period from age 9 to present status. An intergenerational, life course model of development identified significant characteristics and events associated with G-2 outcome (education, physical and mental health, healthy lifestyle, and financial independence of public support, emphasizing educational attainment of a high school diploma or a graduate equivalency degree). Multiple logistic regression equations identified independent, predictive variables during infancy, preschool and early school years, and adolescence. The probability of a good outcome was estimated in the presence of combinations of the six variables most strongly associated with that outcome. Results. Among G-2s, 79% had a successful outcome for education, 60% health, 70% lifestyle, and 76% for financial independence. Black G-2s had more favorable outcomes than white G-2s in education and lifestyle, whites for financial outcome; health did not differ by race. The six variables most predictive of adult education were: G-1 education at G-2 birth and G-2 attainment of honor roll, average or better reading skills at 8 years, avoidance of regular smoking, and pregnancy before age 18, and not repeating a grade in school. Conclusions. Substantial proportions of inner-city children become successful adults. Attention to improving public education, particularly language and reading skills, and the prevention of smoking and adolescent pregnancy are clearly indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-87
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1997


  • financial independence
  • health
  • inner-city children and adolescents
  • lifestyle
  • predictors of educational attainment
  • successful adult outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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