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Soc Sci Med. 2008 Jul;67(2):330-40. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.03.038. Epub 2008 Apr 24.

Socioeconomic status and health: the role of subjective social status.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London, United Kingdom. p.demakakos@ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

Studies have suggested that subjective social status (SSS) is an important predictor of health. This study examined the link between SSS and health in old age and investigated whether SSS mediated the associations between objective indicators of socioeconomic status and health. It used cross-sectional data from the second wave (2004-2005) of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, which were collected through personal interviews and nurse visits. The study population consisted of 3368 men and 4065 women aged 52 years or older. The outcome measures included: self-rated health, long-standing illness, depression, hypertension, diabetes, central obesity, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, fibrinogen, and C-reactive protein. The main independent variable was SSS measured using a scale representing a 10-rung ladder. Wealth, education, and occupational class were employed as covariates along with age and marital status and also, in additional analyses, as the main independent variables. Gender-specific logistic and linear regression analyses were performed. In age-adjusted analyses SSS was related positively to almost all health outcomes. Many of these relationships remained significant after adjustment for covariates. In men, SSS was significantly (p<or=0.05) related to self-rated health, depression, and long-standing illness after adjustment for all covariates, while its association with fibrinogen became non-significant. In women, after adjusting for all covariates, SSS was significantly associated with self-rated health, depression, long-standing illness, diabetes, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, but its associations with central obesity and C-reactive protein became non-significant. Further analysis suggested that SSS mediated fully or partially the associations between education, occupational class and self-reported and clinical health measures. On the contrary, SSS did not mediate wealth's associations with the outcome measures, except those with self-reported health measures. Our results suggest that SSS is an important correlate of health in old age, possibly because of its ability to epitomize life-time achievement and socioeconomic status.

PMID:
18440111
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2547480
Free PMC Article
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