Capital and Health Status in Near-old Adults

TitleCapital and Health Status in Near-old Adults
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsFrytak, JR
Date Published2001
UniversityUniversity of Minnesota
KeywordsHealth Conditions and Status, Healthcare, Net Worth and Assets

Background. The existence of socioeconomic status (SES) differentials in health status has been widely recognized in the literature; the differentials appear to be widest in near-old adults (ages 55-64). Different disciplines have proposed a variety of explanatory mechanisms thought to account for the relationship between SES and health. However, no consensus has been reached in the literature regarding the best explanation for SES differentials in health. Objective. This study investigates how different types of financial, human, and social resources-defined hereafter as capital are associated with producing health in low versus high SES groups. Data source. Wave 1 (1992) and Wave 2 (1994) of the Health and Retirement Study. Study design. This research attempts to combine economic and sociological perspectives into a capital-based approach to exploring SES differentials in health. Measures of financial, human, and social capital were developed. The sample was divided into high and low SES groups. Latent variable structural equation modeling was used to examine the relative effects of the different types of capital on health for each SES group. The differences in the SES subgroup capital coefficients were compared across the subgroups. Results. Capital was found to work differently in the different SES groups. Financial capital generally had a greater direct protective effect on health in the low versus high SES group. Social capital had a greater direct protective effect on self-rated health in the high versus the low SES group; all social capital effects on health were indirect for the low SES group. The effects of human capital were mixed. Human capital generally had the largest protective effects on health within both groups. Conclusions. We found support for the contention that a differential distribution of social, personal, and economic resources within the social structure are fundamental causes of differentials in population health for near-old adults. If social stratification is not considered explicitly in health policy, a general improvement in population health may be achieved but not a lessening of the SES differentials in health.

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Health Status

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ISBN 0-493-11487-4

Short TitleCapital and Health Status in Near-old Adults
Citation Key6303