Socioeconomic Status and Health Over the Life Course: An Aging-Vector Approach

Jinyoung Kim, University of Texas at Austin

The “cumulative advantage hypothesis” suggests SES-based diverging gap in health over the life course. However, previous studies, which mainly used cross-sectional analyzes and focused on education and physical health, gave inconsistent results about the pattern. Using the ACL national probability sample collected in 1986, 1989, and 1994, this study examines the cumulative effects of education and family income on mental health as well as physical health. This study suggests an aging-vector approach, an innovative growth curve modeling which examines health trajectories in all the life stages, as an alternative to studying entire life-course patterns using relatively short-term longitudinal data. Moreover, this approach deals with the issues of mortality selection and confounding problem between aging process and cohort difference, which were the limitations of previous studies. In findings, overall results support consistent diverging gap in health across all the life stages with implying persistent lifelong health inequality by SES.

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Presented in Session 60: Social Inequalities and Health: Methodological Advances