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Correlates of Socioeconomic Status and the Health of Older People in the United Kingdom: A Review

Category: Journal Articles


Rahman, M., Khan, H.T.A. and Hafford-Letchfield, T. (2015). Correlates of Socioeconomic Status and the Health of Older People in the United Kingdom: A Review. Illness, Crisis and Loss 0 (0): 1-23.


This article reviews the existing literature on the association between the socioeconomic status (SES) and the health of the ageing population in the United Kingdom. It has been noted that socioeconomic differentials are more marked across the United Kingdom than they are in other developed countries. Social class gradients are significant in health for working-age people (up to age 65), whereas studies on older populations have so far been limited so as to draw any robust conclusions. In this article, we examine the inequalities through selected SES indicators in order to tease out the effects on health outcomes of the older population. We critically review the physical and mental health indicators of older people in the United Kingdom with regard to their SES differentials. The findings reveal that older people with lower SES are more likely to experience poorer health outcomes (e.g., long-standing illness or increased disability) and have shorter life expectancy compared with those of higher SES. We illustrate how education remains the single most important determinant of health inequality in later life. We suggest that educational level or occupational class allied with material deprivation offer the best combined indicators of SES for studying health inequalities among older people. The findings of this article has profound implications for prioritizing policies to improve the health and well-being of elderly people with lower SES and go offer an evidence base of how to understand and to develop interventions that minimize the inequalities in health in later life in the United Kingdom.

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