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The SES Health Gradient on Both Sides of the Atlantic

  • Banks, James

    ()

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies, London)

  • Marmot, Michael

    ()

    (Agder University College)

  • Oldfield, Zoë

    ()

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies, London)

  • Smith, James P.

    ()

    (RAND)

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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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2539.

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Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2539
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  1. Peter Adams & Michael D. Hurd & Daniel L. McFadden & Angela Merrill & Tiago Ribeiro, 2004. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise? Tests for Direct Causal Paths between Health and Socioeconomic Status," NBER Chapters, in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 415-526 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. James Banks & Richard Blundell & James P. Smith, 2003. "Understanding Differences in Household Financial Wealth between the United States and Great Britain," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(2).
  3. James P. Smith, 2005. "Unraveling the SES-Health Connection," Labor and Demography 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 206, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
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