A Theory of Socioeconomic Disparities in Health Over the Life Cycle

by Titus Galama, Hans van Kippersluis

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Understanding of the substantial disparity in health between low and high socioeconomic status (SES) groups is hampered by the lack of a sufficiently comprehensive theoretical framework to interpret empirical facts and to predict yet untested relations. The authors present a life-cycle model that incorporates multiple mechanisms explaining (jointly) a large part of the observed disparities in health by SES. In their model, lifestyle factors, working conditions, retirement, living conditions and curative care are mechanisms through which SES, health and mortality are related. Their model predicts a widening and possibly a subsequent narrowing with age of the gradient in health by SES.

This paper series was made possible by the NIA funded RAND Center for the Study of Aging and the NICHD funded RAND Population Research Center.

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