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Does socio-economic advantage lead to a longer, healthier old age?


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  • Matthews, Ruth J.
  • Jagger, Carol
  • Hancock, Ruth M.
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    The effect of socio-economic disadvantage on mortality is well documented and differences exist even at older ages. However, whether this translates into differences in the quality of life lived at older ages is less well studied, and in particular in the proportion of remaining life spent without ill health (healthy life expectancy), a key UK Government target. Although there have been studies exploring socio-economic differences in disability-free life expectancy (DFLE) worldwide, these have tended to focus on a single measure of socio-economic advantage, for example, education, race, social class or income, with the majority based on cross-sectional data from younger populations. In this prospective study we examine differences in DFLE and total life expectancy (TLE) at older ages using a range of measures of socio-economic advantage. We use a longitudinal study of 1480 participants aged 75 years or over in 1988 registered with a UK primary care practice, who were followed up until 2003 with measurements at up to seven time points. Disability was defined as difficulty with any one of five activities of daily living. The largest differences in DFLE for both men and women were found for housing tenure. Women aged 75 years living in owned or mortgaged property could expect to live 1 year extra without disability compared with those living in rented accommodation, while for men the difference was almost 1.5 years. The effect of socio-economic advantage on disability-free and total life expectancies appeared to be larger for men than women. In women, socio-economic advantage had more effect on DFLE than total life expectancy for all indicators considered, thus the socio-economically advantaged experienced a compression of disability.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 62 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 10 (May)
    Pages: 2489-2499

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:62:y:2006:i:10:p:2489-2499

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    Keywords: Healthy life expectancy Longitudinal studies Socio-economic status Older people UK;


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    Cited by:
    1. A. Burgio & L. Murianni & P. Folino-Gallo, 2009. "Differences in Life Expectancy and Disability Free Life Expectancy in Italy. A Challenge to Health Systems," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 92(1), pages 1-11, May.
    2. Bakshi, Sanjeev & Pathak, Prasanta, 2008. "A statistical analysis of various factors associated with selected health problems among older adults in India," MPRA Paper 40539, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Bakshi, Sanjeev & Pathak, Prasanta, 2010. "Social context and the burden of ill health among the older adults in India," MPRA Paper 40463, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Emmanuelle Cambois & Caroline Laborde & Isabelle Romieu & Jean-Marie Robine, 2011. "Occupational inequalities in health expectancies in France in the early 2000s: Unequal chances of reaching and living retirement in good health," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 25(12), pages 407-436, August.
    5. Costa-Font, Joan & Hernández-Quevedo, Cristina, 2012. "Measuring inequalities in health: What do we know? What do we need to know?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 106(2), pages 195-206.


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