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Socioeconomic status and age trajectories of health


  • Kim, Jinyoung
  • Durden, Emily


The cumulative advantage hypothesis suggests diverging socioeconomic status (SES) based gaps in health with age. However, previous studies yield inconsistent findings regarding the association between SES and health across the adult life span. Dealing with the issue of mortality selection bias, this study utilizes latent growth-curve modeling to comprehensively examine age trajectories of both physical and mental health by SES using panel data based on a national probability sample of 3617 US adults. We find that education- and income-based gaps in physical impairment and the education-based gap in depression diverge over time for all adult age groups, supporting the hypothesis of cumulative advantage. In contrast, we find that the income-based gap in depression converges in older age, supporting the hypothesis of age-as-leveler. Mortality selection bias is unlikely to be a major part of the explanation for the convergence. These results indicate that age-related patterns in health trajectories may differ by various dimensions of SES and health. Finally, we take into account persistence or change in income over time to examine the relationship between trajectories of income and health across adulthood, highlighting the importance of considering the temporal patterns of income in understanding age trajectories of health.

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  • Kim, Jinyoung & Durden, Emily, 2007. "Socioeconomic status and age trajectories of health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(12), pages 2489-2502, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:65:y:2007:i:12:p:2489-2502

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. van Kippersluis, Hans & Van Ourti, Tom & O'Donnell, Owen & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 2009. "Health and income across the life cycle and generations in Europe," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 818-830, July.
    2. Thomas Leoni, 2015. "Social Differences in Health Status and Use of the Health Care System," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 88(8), pages 649-662, August.
    3. van Kippersluis, Hans & O'Donnell, Owen & van Doorslaer, Eddy & Van Ourti, Tom, 2010. "Socioeconomic differences in health over the life cycle in an Egalitarian country," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 428-438, February.
    4. Kim, Jinyoung & Miech, Richard, 2009. "The Black-White difference in age trajectories of functional health over the life course," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 717-725, February.
    5. Zhao, Shanyang, 2009. "Parental education and children's online health information seeking: Beyond the digital divide debate," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(10), pages 1501-1505, November.
    6. Liang, Jersey & Wang, Chia-Ning & Xu, Xiao & Hsu, Hui-Chuan & Lin, Hui-Shen & Lin, Yu-Hsuan, 2010. "Trajectory of functional status among older Taiwanese: Gender and age variations," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(6), pages 1208-1217, September.
    7. Nizalova, Olena Y. & Norton, Edward C., 2017. "Long-Run Effects of Severe Economic Recessions on Male BMI Trajectories and Health Behaviors," IZA Discussion Papers 10776, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. N. N., 2015. "WIFO-Monatsberichte, issue 8/2015," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 88(8), August.
    9. Götz Rohwer, 2016. "A Note on the Dependence of Health on Age and Education," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(2), pages 325-335, April.
    10. Warner, David F. & Brown, Tyson H., 2011. "Understanding how race/ethnicity and gender define age-trajectories of disability: An intersectionality approach," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(8), pages 1236-1248, April.
    11. Ovrum, Arnstein & Gustavsen, Geir Waehler & Rickertsen, Kyrre, 2012. "Health inequalities over the adult life course: the role of lifestyle choices," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 125862, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    12. Martin Siegel & Markus Luengen & Stephanie Stock, 2013. "On age-specific variations in income-related inequalities in diabetes, hypertension and obesity," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 58(1), pages 33-41, February.
    13. Virginia Zarulli, 2016. "Unobserved Heterogeneity of Frailty in the Analysis of Socioeconomic Differences in Health and Mortality," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 32(1), pages 55-72, February.
    14. Asakawa, Keiko & Senthilselvan, Ambikaipakan & Feeny, David & Johnson, Jeffrey & Rolfson, Darryl, 2012. "Trajectories of health-related quality of life differ by age among adults: Results from an eight-year longitudinal study," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 207-218.


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