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Disabil Rehabil. 2005 Dec 15;27(23):1415-23.

Standard of living in the retirement survey: a predictor of six-year functional limitation onset and mortality in women, but not in men from ages 55 - 69 years.

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  • 1Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, 22-28 Princess Rd West, Leicester, UK.



To investigate the predictive validity for health decline of a standard of living, a measure that combines basic necessities and consumer durables.


A nationally representative sample of those aged 55-69 years was interviewed at home in the Great Britain Retirement and Retirement Plans Survey, (1988; n=3,541). In 1994, 2,247 were re-interviewed, response rate being 70% of survivors. Relationships between socioeconomic status and health decline were investigated using polytomous logistic regression modelling. The outcomes were onset of functional limitation and mortality.


Standard of living was an independent predictor of 6-year functional limitation onset (Odds Ratio compared to good standard of living 2.2; 95% Confidence Interval 1.3-3.8) and mortality (OR=4.6; 95% CI 2.3-8.9) in women, with age, household type, educational qualifications and social class taken into account. However, in men, weaker associations were largely accounted for by differences in education and social class (adjusted OR for functional limitation onset 1.0; 95% CI 0.5-1.9; adjusted OR for mortality 1.4; 95% CI 0.6-2.9). A combined indicator of housing tenure and property value was also an independent predictor of functional limitation onset in women.


Poor standard of living identifies women but not men at risk of health decline who are missed by social class and educational level. Measures of current home-based material resources are a useful addition to minimum datasets for monitoring health inequalities.

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