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Papers of the Week

Papers: 29 Oct 2022 - 4 Nov 2022

Human Studies


PLoS One



Chronic pain: Evidence from the national child development study.


Blanchflower DG, Bryson A
PLoS One. 2022; 17(11):e0275095.
PMID: 36322526.


Using data from all those born in a single week in 1958 in Britain we track associations between short pain and chronic pain in mid-life (age 44) and subsequent health, wellbeing and labor market outcomes in later life. We focus on data taken at age 50 in 2008, when the Great Recession hit and then five years later at age 55 in 2013 and again at age 62 in 2021 during the Covid pandemic. We find those suffering both short-term and chronic pain at age 44 continue to report pain and poor general health in their 50s and 60s. However, the associations are much stronger for those with chronic pain. Furthermore, chronic pain at age 44 is associated with a range of poor mental health outcomes, pessimism about the future and joblessness at age 55 whereas short-duration pain at age 44 is not. Pain has strong predictive power for pain later in life: pain in childhood predicts pain in mid-life, even when one controls for pain in early adulthood. Pain appears to reflect other vulnerabilities as we find that chronic pain at age 44 predicts whether or not a respondent has Covid nearly twenty years later.