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Past Event

Inequality and Frailty in elderly people: a comparison between European countries

About the Speaker

Dr Sara Zella, Research Fellow, Oxford Institute of Population Ageing.

Sara joined the Institute in 2016 to work with Professor Sarah Harper on the research project “The impact of different work/care life courses on women’s wellbeing and quality of life in early retirement and the welfare regimes which help shape this”.

Sara previously worked in Switzerland (University of Lausanne and The Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences - FORS) and in Canada (University of Lethbridge), where she investigated the association between life events, health and wellbeing of adults with life course perspective.

Sara’s current research interests extend to the areas of wellbeing, gender, inequality and longitudinal analysis, and cover a range of topics such as health, work career, family forms and family formation.


Health inequalities in old age based on socio and economic disparities have become crucial for targeting health and social provision. Cross-sectional research has underlined that health inequalities diminish with age and, consequently, inequalities in older adults are smaller than those in middle-aged individuals. By contrast, longitudinal studies developed in the past decade have found mixed results on this relationship. They have shown a convergence, continuation, or even increase of health inequalities throughout early to late old age. These conflicting results may be due to several causes, such as the selection of specific health indicators or methodological choices in treating attrition and selection effects.

In our opinion, a clearer picture of health inequality can be obtained by using a multidimensional concept of health: frailty. ‘Frailty’ denotes a state of increased vulnerability that leads to morbidity, functional limitations and disabilities. It has been recognised as a valid measure of physiological decline, and it has been successfully applied in recent studies in order to assess health inequality among older adults.

Using a life course perspective, we investigate the association between frailty and socio-economic conditions. Although considerable research has been devoted to this topic, rather less attention has been paid to the role of national contexts. We aim to fill this gap by analysing four countries with different welfare systems and scores in ageing indexes: Denmark, Italy, Czech Republic and Poland.

This event is part of a seminar series:

Hilary Term 2019 Seminar Series: Ageing Populations: from Cell to Society

Hilary Term 2019 Seminar Series Ageing Populations: from Cell to Society Seminar Room: 66 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6PR Convener: Professor Sarah Harper

Event Details

14 February 2019 14:00 - 15:30


Oxford Institute of Population Ageing

66 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6PR