Health >> Childhood Health Risks >> Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) >> Income, Education, Employment

People with high ACE scores were overrepresented among King County adults who were unable to work or unemployed. 

During childhood, frequent or extended exposure to toxic stressors – such as abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction – can impair brain development, with potentially lifelong consequences for health and wellbeing.  Similarly, certain attitudes and preferences in adolescence can predict whether teens are likely to engage in unhealthy or delinquent behaviors. 

In a telephone survey, King County adults were asked to think back to the years before they were 18 and report their exposure to any of 8 categories of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).  Scores ranged from 0 to 8. To facilitate demographic comparisons, 3 years of data were averaged.

High adverse childhood experience (ACE) scores were common across all income, education, and employment categories.  Notable differences within these categories included:

  • Substantial proportions of adults who were unable to work (35%) or unemployed (27%) had high ACE scores.
  • College graduates were about half as likely as adults with less education to have high ACE scores.
  • Adults with income below $25,000 a year were more likely to have high ACE scores than those with income at or above $50,000 a year.