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The SES Health Gradient on Both Sides of the Atlantic

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  • James Banks
  • Michael Marmot
  • Zoe Oldfield
  • James P. Smith

Abstract

Looking across many diseases, average health among mature men is much worse in America compared to England. Second, there exists a steep negative health gradient for men in both countries where men at the bottom of the economic hierarchy are in much worse health than those at the top. This health gradient exists whether education, income, or financial wealth is used as the marker of one's SES status. These conclusions are maintained even after controlling for a standard set of behavioral risk factors such as smoking, drinking, and obesity and are equally true using either biological measures of disease or individual self-reports. In contrast to these disease based measures, health of American men appears to be superior to the health of English men when self-reported general health status is used. The contradiction most likely stems instead from different thresholds used by Americans and English when evaluating health status on subjective scales. For the same "objective" health status, Americans are much more likely to say that their health is good than are the English. Finally, feedbacks from new health events to household income are one of the reasons that underlie the strength of the income gradient with health in England.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12674.

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Date of creation: Nov 2006
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Publication status: published as Wise, David A. (ed.) Developments in the Economics of Aging, A National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12674

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  1. James Banks & Richard Blundell & James P. Smith, 2004. "Understanding Differences in Household Financial Wealth between the United States and Great Britain," Labor and Demography, EconWPA 0403028, EconWPA.
  2. Adams, Peter & Hurd, Michael D. & McFadden, Daniel & Merrill, Angela & Ribeiro, Tiago, 2003. "Healthy, wealthy, and wise? Tests for direct causal paths between health and socioeconomic status," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 3-56, January.
  3. James P. Smith, 2005. "Unraveling the SES-Health Connection," Labor and Demography, EconWPA 0505018, EconWPA.
  4. Michael Hurd & F. Thomas Juster & James P. Smith, 2003. "Enhancing the Quality of Data on Income: Recent Innovations from the HRS," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(3).
  5. Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith & Arthur van Soest, 2004. "Self-reported Work Disability in the US and The Netherlands," Working Papers, RAND Corporation Publications Department 206, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
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  1. Recessions kill
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2008-08-13 13:43:11
  2. Science, ego and power
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2011-11-02 13:49:36
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Cited by:
  1. Emma Tominey, 2007. "Maternal Smoking During Pregnancy and Early Child Outcomes," CEP Discussion Papers, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE dp0828, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Michael Lokshin & Martin Ravallion, 2008. "Testing for an economic gradient in health status using subjective data," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(11), pages 1237-1259.
  3. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J. & van Landeghem, Bert, 2009. "Imitative Obesity and Relative Utility," IZA Discussion Papers 4010, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Lahiri, Kajal & Pulungan, Zulkarnain, 2007. "Income-related health disparity and its determinants in New York state: racial/ethnic and geographical comparisons," MPRA Paper 21694, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Kajal Lahiri & Zulkarnain Pulungan, 2006. "Health Inequality and Its Determinants in New York," Discussion Papers, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics 06-03, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  6. Ciro Avitabile & Tullio Jappelli & Mario Padula, 2008. "Screening Tests, Information, and the Health-Education Gradient," CSEF Working Papers, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy 187, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy, revised 28 Apr 2008.
  7. Datta Gupta, Nabanita & Kleinjans, Kristin J. & Larsen, Mona, 2011. "The Effect of an Acute Health Shock on Work Behavior: Evidence from Different Health Care Regimes," IZA Discussion Papers 5843, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. David M. Cutler & Adriana Lleras-Muney & Tom Vogl, 2008. "Socioeconomic Status and Health: Dimensions and Mechanisms," NBER Working Papers 14333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Emma Tominey, 2007. "Maternal smoking during pregnancy and early child outcomes," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library 19675, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  10. Majo, Maria Cristina & van Soest, Arthur, 2012. "Income and health care utilization among the 50+ in Europe and the US," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 28(4), pages 3-22.
  11. Oswald, Andrew J & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2007. "Obesity, Unhappiness, and The Challenge of Affluence : Theory and Evidence," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS), University of Warwick, Department of Economics 793, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  12. Stefan Hupfeld, 2011. "Non-monotonicity in the longevity–income relationship," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 191-211, January.

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