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A Life-course Perspective on the Relationship between Socio-economic Status and Health: Testing the Divergence Hypothesis

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  • Steven G. Prus
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    Abstract

    While adults from all socio-economic status (SES) levels generally encounter a decline in health as they grow older, research shows that health status is tied to SES at all stages of life. The dynamics of the relationship between SES and health over the life course of adult Canadians, however, remain largely unexplored. This paper tests the divergence hypothesis, which postulates that the SES- based gap in health widens with age, using a representative sample of Canadians aged 25 to 79 from the 1994/1995 National Population Health Survey. Multiple linear regression analyses show support for this assumption; that is, the relationship between SES (measured by years of education and annual household income) and health (measured by self-rated and functional health indexes) strengthens with age. The results of this study provide insight and answers about healthy aging among Canadians.

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    File URL: http://socserv.mcmaster.ca/sedap/p/sedap91.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by McMaster University in its series Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers with number 91.

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    Length: 33 pages
    Date of creation: Feb 2003
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:mcm:sedapp:91

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    Keywords: Health; Socio-economic status; Life course; Healthy aging;

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    1. Denton, Margaret & Walters, Vivienne, 1999. "Gender differences in structural and behavioral determinants of health: an analysis of the social production of health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 48(9), pages 1221-1235, May.
    2. Hay, David Ian, 1988. "Socioeconomic status and health status: A study of males in the Canada health survey," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 27(12), pages 1317-1325, January.
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