Potente, C. (2019) Doctoral thesis, Nuffield College, University of Oxford [ONS LS]
Other information: Abstract:
The aim of this thesis is to advance the understanding of how the relationship between health and socioeconomic status changes over the life-course and over time. Three different studies which address several important aspects of the socioeconomic inequalities in health are presented. First, the existence of a socioeconomic gradient in functional health at the end of life in England is investigated. The objective is to contribute to the empirical evidence concerning the existence of a disappearing association between socioeconomic status and health in old age, by analysing whether socioeconomic status is associated with disability trajectories in the final years of life. The second study examines how the changing demographic composition of different educational groups over time can help to explain the widening educational gap in self-reported health in the United States, connecting family demography with health inequalities. The third study explores whether, and to what extent, education has a causal effect on cancer outcomes in England and Wales. This thesis contributes to the existing literature in at least three ways. First, it conceptualises the last years of life as a life stage where socioeconomic inequalities in health might emerge. Differences in the disability-related pathways preceding death were found only wealth. Second, it highlights the increasingly important role of demographic factors and marital status in particular, when studying health inequalities over time. Indeed, the findings suggested an increasingly relevant contribution of marital status over time for educational inequalities in health in the United States, despite marriage representing only a small part of the explanation. Furthermore, it investigated for the first time the causal effect of education on survival after cancer diagnosis, providing evidence for the absence of a causal impact of an additional year of compulsory schooling on cancer incidence and survival after two educational reforms.