Socioeconomic Status and Health over the Life Course

Capital as a Unifying Concept
  • Jennifer R. Frytak
  • Carolyn R. Harley
  • Michael D. Finch
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


On average, individuals of lower socioeconomic status (SES)—based on education, income, or occupation—have worse health than their higher SES counterparts (Adler, Boyce, Chesney, Folkman, & Syme, 1993; Antonovsky, 1967; Feinstein, 1993; Feldman, Makuc, Kleinman, & Cornoni-Huntley, 1989; House, Kessler, & Herzog, 1990; Kitagawa & Hauser, 1973; Marmot, Shipley, & Rose, 1984; Pappas, Queen, Hadden, & Fisher, 1993; Preston & Taubman, 1994; Townsend & Davidson, 1982). This relationship is best depicted as a gradient in health with a fairly linear trend in better health associated with increasing levels of SES, rather than a threshold effect. Furthermore, this relationship is stratified by age; lower SES individuals begin to experience health problems shortly after adolescence, while higher SES individuals experience little health decline until around retirement age (House et al, 1990, 1994). This life course patterning of SES and health is intriguing since it suggests substantial variation in the ability of each group to sustain good health over the life course.


Social Capital Human Capital Financial Capital Risky Health Behavior Inverse Gradient 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer R. Frytak
    • 1
  • Carolyn R. Harley
    • 1
  • Michael D. Finch
    • 2
  1. 1.Economic Outcomes ResearchIngenix Pharmaceutical ServicesEden Prairie
  2. 2.United Health GroupCenter for Health Care Policy and EvaluationMinnetonka

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