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Patterns and causes of health inequalities in later life: A Bourdieusian approach

Patterns and causes of health inequalities in later life: A Bourdieusian approach

McGovern, Pauline and Nazroo, James (2015) Patterns and causes of health inequalities in later life: A Bourdieusian approach. Sociology of Health & Illness, 37 (1). pp. 143-160. ISSN 0141-9889 (Print), 1467-9566 (Online) (doi:

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This study explores the relationship between social class and health change in older people in a path analysis, using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (n=6241). Our path model includes both the occupational
and secondary characteristics of objective social class that Bourdieu describes in Distinction (1979) as well as a measure of subjective social class. We investigate the direct, indirect and total effects of the predictors on change in three health outcomes (self-rated health; number of symptoms of depression; and number of difficulties with activities of daily living).

The analysis adds to the body of Bourdieusian research by showing how the effects of objective social class on health are partially mediated by perceived social status. It also adds to substantive research on the relationship between class and health by suggesting that class-related health inequalities do persist for older people, even for those who are not in paid employment. It suggests that a large amount of the effect of occupation on the health of older people is not direct but indirect – through their personal wealth and lifestyle.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the PREPRINT version of the above cited article which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Health, Objective class, Subjective class, Lifestyle, Longitudinal path analysis
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business > Institute of Political Economy, Governance, Finance and Accountability (IPEGFA) > Greenwich Political Economy Research Centre (GPERC)
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2021 16:33

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