Socio-economic Status and Mortality: Perceptions and Outcomes

TitleSocio-economic Status and Mortality: Perceptions and Outcomes
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsWeir, DR
KeywordsDemographics, Health Conditions and Status

This paper draws on over 300,000 person-years of mortality observation on over 30,000 participants in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to study the relationship of education, income, and wealth to mortality expectations and mortality outcomes in older Americans. Using quintiles to facilitate comparison across variables, we find that all three SES measures significantly predict mortality, but that in joint models education is dominated by the other two which are realized later in life, and particularly by wealth. As others have found, SES differentials in mortality decline with age, though wealth remains a powerful determinant even at advanced ages. When strictly interpreted as expressions of relative risk, the subjective probabilities of survival offered by HRS respondents substantially understate the true differentials by SES, as they do for other factors like smoking and very low or very high body weight. In particular, the large mortality disadvantage of low wealth is not recognized. SES accounts for most of black-white differentials in mortality, whereas it unveils an Hispanic advantage relative to other whites that was masked by lower SES.

Endnote Keywords

Mortality/socioeconomic Differences/racial Differences/ethnic differences

Endnote ID


Citation Key5829