Health Inequalities and the Interplay of Socioeconomic Factors and Health in the Life Course

  • Rasmus Hoffmann
  • Hannes Kröger
  • Eduwin Pakpahan


In this chapter, we present health as an intersection between biology and society, and between medical/biological science and sociology. We discuss the examples of health inequalities according to socioeconomic status (SES), race and gender, before considering in more detail from a life course perspective the causal direction between SES and health. Our empirical analysis investigates the explanatory power of social causation and health selection, using retrospective survey data from ten European countries (SHARELIFE), and structural equations models in a cross-lagged panel design. Between childhood and adulthood both mechanisms seem equally important, but in older ages, social causation is much more important than health selection. The contribution of both mechanisms to health inequality illustrates the co-evolution of social and biological factors in the human life course.



AcknowledgementsThis chapter uses data from SHARE wave 4 release 1.1.1, as of March 28, 2013 (DOI:  10.6103/SHARE.w4.111), or SHARE waves 1 and 2 release 2.6.0, as of November 29, 2013 (DOIs:  10.6103/SHARE.w1.260 and  10.6103/SHARE.w2.260), or SHARELIFE release 1.0.0, as of November 24, 2010 (DOI:  10.6103/SHARE.w3.100). 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), through the 6th Framework Programme (projects SHARE-I3, RII-CT-2006-062193, COMPARE, CIT5- CT-2005-028857, and SHARELIFE, CIT4-CT-2006-028812) and through the 7th Framework Programme (SHARE-PREP, No. 211909, SHARE-LEAP, No. 227822 and SHARE M4, No. 261982). Additional funding from the U.S. National Institute on Aging (U01 AG09740-13S2, P01 AG005842, P01 AG08291, P30 AG12815, R21 AG025169, Y1-AG-4553-01, IAG BSR06-11 and OGHA 04-064) and the German Ministry of Education and Research, as well as from various national sources, is gratefully acknowledged (see for a full list of funding institutions).


This work was supported by a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (grant number 313532).


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rasmus Hoffmann
    • 1
  • Hannes Kröger
    • 2
  • Eduwin Pakpahan
    • 3
  1. 1.European University InstituteSan Domenico di FiesoleItaly
  2. 2.Deutsches Institut für WirtschaftsforschungBerlinGermany
  3. 3.University of East AngliaNorwichUK

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