Parental welfare status was found to be a marker for identifying a group of children with an increased prevalence of psychiatric disorder and poor school performance. The marker was particularly strong for psychiatric disorder in young boys and for poor school performance in young girls. For instance, the prevalence rates of psychiatric disorder, in the 6 to 11 age group, for welfare and non-welfare boys, were 40.0% and 13.9%, respectively; and for poor school performance in welfare and non-welfare girls, 27.8% and 6.1%, respectively.
The relationship between different measures of psychosocial disadvantage and these child deficits was examined. Multivariate analyses revealed, for example, that parental welfare status made an independent contribution to the prediction of psychiatric disorder and was a more powerful predictor of poor school performance in girls compared to boys. The implications of these and other results are discussed.