International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 5–15 | Cite as

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

  • Cleon TsimbosEmail author
Original Article



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 



The author is grateful to two anonymous referees for their constructive and helpful comments. This paper uses data from release 2 of SHARE 2004. The SHARE data collection has been primarily funded by the European Commission through the 5th framework programme (project QLK6-CT-2001-00360 in the thematic programme Quality of Life). Additional funding came from the US National Institute on Ageing (U01 AG09740-13S2, P01 AG005842, P01 AG08291, P30 AG12815, Y1-AG-4553-01 and OGHA 04-064). Data collection in Austria (through the Austrian Science Foundation, FWF), Belgium (through the Belgian Science Policy Office) and Switzerland (through BBW/OFES/UFES) was nationally funded. The SHARE data collection in Israel was funded by the US National Institute on Aging (R21 AG025169), by the German–Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF), and by the National Insurance Institute of Israel. Further support by the European Commission through the 6th framework programme (projects SHARE-I3, RII-CT-2006-062193, and COMPARE, CIT5-CT-2005-028857) is gratefully acknowledged. For methodological details see Börsch-Supan and Jürges (2005).


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel/Switzerland 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Statistics and Insurance ScienceUniversity of PiraeusAthensGreece

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