Health inequalities and the interplay of socioeconomic factors and health in the life course

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


External departments

  • European University Institute, San Domenico di Fiesole
  • German Institute for Economic Research
  • University of East Anglia


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Biology and Society
EditorsMaurizio Meloni, John Cromby, Des Fitzgerald, Stephanie Lloyd
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781137528797
ISBN (Print)9781137528780
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes
Publication type

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In this chapter, we present health as an intersection between biology and society, and between medical/biological science and sociology. We discuss the examples of health inequalities according to socioeconomic status (SES), race and gender, before considering in more detail from a life course perspective the causal direction between SES and health. Our empirical analysis investigates the explanatory power of social causation and health selection, using retrospective survey data from ten European countries (SHARELIFE), and structural equations models in a cross-lagged panel design. Between childhood and adulthood both mechanisms seem equally important, but in older ages, social causation is much more important than health selection. The contribution of both mechanisms to health inequality illustrates the co-evolution of social and biological factors in the human life course.