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Is the educational health gap increasing for women? Results from Catalonia(Spain)


  • Aïda Solé-Auró

    () (Department of Political and Social Sciences, Pompeu Fabra University)

  • Manuela Alcañiz

    () (Department of Econometrics, Riskcenter-IREA, Universitat de Barcelona)


Background. Health expectancies vary worldwide according to socioeconomic status (SES). The lower SES usually show health disadvantage and the higher SES a health advantage compared to the average. The educational level of individuals is strongly linked to their SES. Objective. We propose to identify the evolution of SES differentials in health by gender, paying special attention to the trends for the least advantaged - low educated females. We focus on the adult Catalan population (Spain) aged 55 or older. Methods. We measured SES through education. We used individual cross-sectional data obtained in 1994 and in 2012 from the Catalan Health Survey. We examined three comprehensive health indicators to disentangle the health and disability statuses in order to document social differences in health. We applied logistic models for each indicator, controlling for socio demographic characteristics, health coverage and lifestyle. Results. Low educated males and females experienced an increase in the prevalence of functional and ADL limitations. We found an increment in the likelihood of bad health and functional limitations for the low educated between 1994 and 2012. The prevalences of smoking increased for low and middle educated females, whereas low educated males suffered a 4.1% increment of sedentarism. Having smoked in the past and leading a sedentary lifestyle increased the likelihood of bad and functional limitations. In general, double health coverage reduced the effect on reporting more health problems. Our predicted probabilities show that low educated women were more likely to self-perceive their health as bad and report functional limitations than any other group in both periods. Conclusions. Lower educated females are the most disfavored group in terms of health and personal autonomy. The gender gap between low educated men and women has reduced for self-perceiving bad health and for functional limitations between 1994 and 2012. Adopting a healthy lifestyle promotes well-being and personal autonomy. Health policies should continue to take into account that the population with lower SES is more likely to suffer from poor health and disability as they age, being the females a particularly fragile group.

Suggested Citation

  • Aïda Solé-Auró & Manuela Alcañiz, 2015. "Is the educational health gap increasing for women? Results from Catalonia(Spain)," Working Papers 2015-06, Universitat de Barcelona, UB Riskcenter.
  • Handle: RePEc:bak:wpaper:201506

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Schrijvers, C.T.M. & Stronks, K. & Van De Mheen, H.D. & Mackenbach, J.P., 1999. "Explaining educational differences in mortality: The role of behavioral and material factors," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 89(4), pages 535-540.
    2. Aïda Solé-Auró & Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez & Eileen Crimmins, 2015. "Are Differences in Disability-Free Life Expectancy by Gender, Race, and Education Widening at Older Ages?," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 34(1), pages 1-18, February.
    3. Kathleen A. Lahey & Paloma de Villota, 2013. "Economic Crisis, Gender Equality, and Policy Responses in Spain and Canada," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 82-107, July.
    4. repec:dau:papers:123456789/10510 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Verbrugge, Lois M. & Jette, Alan M., 1994. "The disablement process," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 1-14, January.
    6. Mäki, Netta & Martikainen, Pekka & Eikemo, Terje & Menvielle, Gwenn & Lundberg, Olle & Östergren, Olof & Jasilionis, Domantas & Mackenbach, Johan P., 2013. "Educational differences in disability-free life expectancy: a comparative study of long-standing activity limitation in eight European countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 1-8.
    7. Emmanuelle Cambois & Caroline Laborde & Isabelle Romieu & Jean-Marie Robine, 2011. "Occupational inequalities in health expectancies in France in the early 2000s: Unequal chances of reaching and living retirement in good health," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 25(12), pages 407-436.
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    gender inequalities; socioeconomic disparities; health indicators; educational level; Catalonia.;

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