Original Article

International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 5-15

First online:

An assessment of socio-economic inequalities in health among elderly in Greece, Italy and Spain

  • Cleon TsimbosAffiliated withDepartment of Statistics and Insurance Science, University of Piraeus Email author 

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This study explores socio-economic inequalities in health among Mediterranean people aged 50 or higher.


The data used in the analysis come from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, wave 1, release 2; the sample includes 2,671 Greek, 2,502 Italian and 2,343 Spanish persons. Seven health indicators are examined using age-sex standardized prevalence rates and logistic regression models. Concentration indices are also computed for self-rated health (SRH).


Socio-economic position of individuals declines with age. Persons of lower socio-economic position experience worse health in all instances. Independently of education and gender, Greek persons display the lowest prevalence rates for SRH and physical and depressive symptoms, Spanish exhibit the highest rates for chronic conditions, and Italians perform better regarding functional limitations. Within-country analysis shows that the magnitude of socio-economic inequalities in SRH is greatest in Greece, followed by Spain and lastly by Italy.


The analysis reconfirms the advantage of high over low socio-economic position for all countries and health indicators and proves education as an important correlate compared to wealth and income among the elderly.


Health inequalities Socio-economic position Education Mediterranean countries Concentration index SHARE