IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Socioeconomic status and health status: A study of males in the Canada health survey


  • Hay, David Ian


The relationships between education/occupation/income and health status have been well documented in the international epidemiological and sociological literature for many years, however, specific studies on the subject are scarce in Canada. Even when relationships have been demonstrated, the reasons for these relationships are much debated. This study presents an analysis of the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and health status. The study is based on analysis of data from a sample of nearly 2000 male principal income earners from the 1978 Canada Health Survey. Firstly, is there a relationship between an individual's SES and health status in Canada? Secondly, what aspects of SES--education, occupational status, and/or income--are most important? Thirdly, what are the possible explanations of the observed relationship? That is, is it possible to disaggregate the relationship and thereby infer possible causal mechanisms? The findings indicated a direct positive relationship between SES and health status, i.e. the higher an individual's SES, the better that person's health. The major exception to this was the SES/fitness relationship. In this instance, the higher the SES, the lower the level of fitness. Though age was an important control variable as SES, fitness and illness are age related, the findings relating SES to the health measures remained even when age was controlled for. Of the three SES measures, income was consistently the best correlate of health status. Occupational status showed the most inconsistent relationships with health status. The findings supported both the social causation and social selection hypotheses. That is, social position can have an effect on health status (social causation), while health status can affect one's social position (social selection).

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:27:y:1988:i:12:p:1317-1325

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Kelly Bedard & John Dorland & Allan W. Gregory & Mark Rosenberg, 1999. "Standardized Mortality Ratios and Canadian Health-Care Funding," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 25(1), pages 47-64, March.
    2. Zachary Zimmer & Heidi Hanson & Ken Smith, 2016. "Childhood socioeconomic status, adult socioeconomic status, and old-age health trajectories," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 34(10), pages 285-320, February.
    3. Deanna L. Williamson & Janet E. Fast, 1998. "Poverty Status, Health Behaviours, and Health: Implications for Social Assistance and Health Care Policy," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 24(1), pages 1-25, March.
    4. Steven Prus, 2007. "Age, SES, and Health: A Population Level Analysis of Health Inequalities over the Life Course," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 181, McMaster University.
    5. Steven G. Prus, 2003. "A Life-course Perspective on the Relationship between Socio-economic Status and Health: Testing the Divergence Hypothesis," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 91, McMaster University.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:27:y:1988:i:12:p:1317-1325. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.