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Inequality of opportunities in health and death: an investigation from birth to middle age in Great Britain

Abstract : Objective: We assess the existence of unfair inequalities in health and death using the normative framework of inequality of opportunities, from birth to middle age in Great Britain. Methods: We use data from the 1958 National Child Development Study, which provides a unique opportunity to observe individual health from birth to the age of 54, including the occurrence of mortality. We measure health status combining self-assessed health and mortality. We compare and statistically test the differences between the cumulative distribution functions of health status at each age according to one childhood circumstance beyond people's control: the father's occupation. Results: At all ages, individuals born to a 'professional', 'senior manager or technician' father report a better health status and have a lower mortality rate than individuals born to 'skilled', 'partly skilled' or 'unskilled' manual workers and individuals without a father at birth. The gap in the probability to report good health between individuals born into high social backgrounds compared with low, increases from 12 percentage points at age 23 to 26 at age 54. Health gaps are even more marked in health states at the bottom of the health distribution when mortality is combined with self-assessed health. Conclusions: There is increasing inequality of opportunities in health over the lifespan in Great Britain. The tag of social background intensifies as individuals get older. Finally, there is added analytical value to combining mortality with self-assessed health when measuring health inequalities.
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https://hal-amu.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03138298
Contributor : Elisabeth Lhuillier <>
Submitted on : Thursday, February 11, 2021 - 9:47:59 AM
Last modification on : Friday, February 12, 2021 - 3:33:33 AM

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Damien Bricard, Florence Jusot, Alain Trannoy, Sandy Tubeuf. Inequality of opportunities in health and death: an investigation from birth to middle age in Great Britain. International Journal of Epidemiology, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2020, 49 (5), pp.1739-1748. ⟨10.1093/ije/dyaa130⟩. ⟨hal-03138298⟩

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