The Social Gradient in Health: The Effect of Absolute Income and Subjective Social Status Assessment on the Individual’s Health in Europe

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Using data on individuals aged between 50 and 65 from 6 European countries, this study investigates the effect of absolute income and subjective social status assessment on health in the light of medical evidence indicating that the individual's position in the social hierarchy undermines his/her mental and physical health. The paper shows that individuals’ own income has a positive, but modest effect on health. Importantly, subjective social status assessment has a significant effect on all health measurements. Finally, the results show that individuals from deprived families (when at the age of 14) have poorer physical and mental health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-237
Number of pages9
JournalEconomics and Human Biology
Issue number2
Early online date14 May 2009
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009



  • income
  • social status
  • mental and physical health
  • childhood deprivation

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