Socioeconomic position and health at old age: Results from 6-years follow-up study

Ofra Anson, Ester Paran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Inconsistent results were reported in past research regarding the convergent, persistence or divergence of health inequalities at old age. It would seem that the persistence and the convergence of health inequalities depend on the social class indicator and the health outcome variables used. The aim of this article is to explore the degree to which higher level of education and better economic state predict four dimensions of health, measured by nine variables, among the elderly. 517 men and women aged 70-85 were interviewed, using a structured questionnaire. Six years later, 318 (80.9 per cent of those who survived) were re-interviewed. Four dimensions of health, education and economic state were studied. The results showed that there were no indications to convergence of health inequalities. Moreover, in this sample, health inequalities seemed to increase with age. Education and perceived economic state were consistently related to all aspects of health. The independent effect of education on physical health declined to a non-significant level during the 6 years of follow-up. Yet the independent effect of both education and income on cognitive functioning persisted during the follow-up period. None of the interactions between age and Socio-economic status (SES) indicators were statistically significant. Our findings support the salutogenic (Antonovsky, 1979) and the social disadvantaged position as a fundamental cause of disease approaches. We demonstrated the multi-dimensionality of both socioeconomic position and health. Education and income differentially predict different dimensions of health. Health inequalities, however, clearly persist at old age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-191
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Theory and Health
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2010

Keywords

  • Cognitive functioning
  • Fundamental cause of disease
  • Inequality
  • Physical health
  • Quality of life
  • Salutogenic approach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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