Low income is a widely studied risk factor for child and adolescent
behavioural difficulties. Previous research on this relationship has
produced mixed findings.
To investigate the level, shape and homogeneity of income gradients in
different types of antisocial behaviour.
A representative sample of 7977 British children and adolescents, aged
5–16 years, was analysed. Hypotheses concerning the shapes and
homogeneity of the relationships between family socioeconomic status and
multiple antisocial behaviour outcomes, including clinical diagnoses of
oppositional-defiant disorder, conduct disorder and symptom subscales,
such as irritability and hurtfulness, were tested by structural equation
Consistent income gradients were demonstrated across all antisocial
behaviours studied. Disorder prevalence and mean symptom counts decreased
across income quintiles in a non-linear fashion.
Our findings emphasise that income gradients are similar across different
forms of antisocial behaviour and indicate that income may lead to
greater behavioural differences in the mid-income range and less
variation at low- and high-income extremes.