Publications

Socioeconomic Position and Health: The Differential Effects of Education versus Income on the Onset versus Progression of Health Problems*

This article seeks to elucidate the relationship between socioeconomic position and health by showing how different facets of socioeconomic position (education and income) affect different stages (onset vs. progression) of health problems. The biomedical literature has generally treated socioeconomic position as a unitary construct. Likewise, the social science literature has tended to treat health as a unitary construct. To advance our understanding of the relationship between socioeconomic position and health, and ultimately to foster appropriate policies and practices to improve population health, a more nuanced approach is required-one that differentiates theoretically and empirically among dimensions of both socioeconomic position and health. Using data from the Americans' Changing Lives Study (1986 through 2001/2002), we show that education is more predictive than income of the onset of both functional limitations and chronic conditions, while income is more strongly associated than education with the progression of both. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT] This article seeks to elucidate the relationship between socioeconomic position and health by showing how different facets of socioeconomic position (education and income) affect different stages (onset vs. progression) of health problems. The biomedical literature has generally treated socioeconomic position as a unitary construct. Likewise, the social science literature has tended to treat health as a unitary construct. To advance our understanding of the relationship between socioeconomic position and health, and ultimately to foster appropriate policies and practices to improve population health, a more nuanced approach is required–one that differentiates theoretically and empirically among dimensions of both socioeconomic position and health. Using data from the Americans' Changing Lives Study (1986 through 2001/2002), we show that education is more predictive than income of the onset of both functional limitations and chronic conditions, while income is more strongly associated than education with the progression of both.