IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/socmed/v44y1997i6p833-858.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Health inequalities in the early years: Is there equalisation in youth?

Author

Listed:
  • West, Patrick

Abstract

In the light of a still prevalent view that health inequalities are an invariant feature of the life-course, this paper re-examines the thesis that youth, in contrast to childhood, is characterised by relative equality in health, and proposes a process of equalisation to account for changes in the social class patterning of certain dimensions of health between these life stages. The evidence relating to the relationship between class of background and health over the early years is first reviewed, focusing on seven dimensions of health: mortality, chronic illness, specific conditions, self-rated health, symptoms of acute illness, accidents and injuries, and mental health. The overall picture is consistent with a conclusion of relative equality of health in youth with one major exception, severe chronic illness, which particularly on the evidence of the 1991 British Census is class differentiated from infancy. In respect of other dimensions of health, notably symptoms, non-fatal accidents and (probably) mental health, there is evidence of a change in class patterning between childhood and youth consistent with a hypothesis of equalisation. Within a theoretical perspective that juxtaposes class and age (youth) based influences, it is suggested that this could occur when effects associated with the secondary (high) school, the peer group and youth culture cut across those of the family, home background and neighbourhood in such a way as to reduce or remove class differences in health. In later youth, in the post-school period, the relative balance of class and age based influences shifts once more to produce a "re-emergence" of class gradients in adulthood. Youth may be a barometer of the relative power of post-modern consumer culture and traditional class based structures to shape the pattern of health inequalities over the early years into adulthood.

Suggested Citation

  • West, Patrick, 1997. "Health inequalities in the early years: Is there equalisation in youth?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 44(6), pages 833-858, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:44:y:1997:i:6:p:833-858
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277-9536(96)00188-8
    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.

    Corrections

    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:44:y:1997:i:6:p:833-858. 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: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/315/description#description .

    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.